Clooney, a six-time Oscar nominee who won as actor for Syriana and as a producer for Argo, said African Americans, women and Hispanics were not being treated fairly by Hollywood.
“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job,” he told Variety magazine.
“Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?
“We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
Clooney’s assertion that there were many more African American nominations in previous decades is not accurate, however.
At times seven or eight years would pass without a black actor being nominated in one of the categories, with black women particularly struggling for recognition.
Halle Berry, in 2001, was the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, for Monster’s Ball. She was only the seventh African American actress to be nominated at all in that category.
Only four black men have ever won Best Actor awards – Sidney Poitier in 1963, plus Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker.
Yet in the past decade, six black actors have been nominated for Best Actor, with Whitaker winning for Last King of Scotland. Three black women have been nominated for Best Actress since 2005 – Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, Viola Davis for The Help and Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild – but none of them have won.
However, black women – Nyong’o, Octavia Spencer and Mo’Nique – won Best Supporting Actress Oscars three times in the last decade, for films released in 2013, 2011 and 2009.
Clooney, 54, added that women were also having to fight for their right to a fair wage and for the opportunity to star in films beyond the age of 40 – despite the fact that in the 1930s the majority of film leads were women.
For Hispanic actors, he said, the situation was worse.
“We should have been paying attention long before this,” he said. “I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough. I think that’s absolutely true.”
The announcement last week of the Oscars nominations has seen a wave of protest, with all – for the second year running – 20 of the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominees being white.
Director Spike Lee said he would not attend, and actress Jada Pinkett Smith led calls for a boycott. On Wednesday Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Oscar in February 2014 for 12 Years A Slave, said she was “disappointed by the lack of inclusion” and that she supported her peers’ – although she stopped short of endorsing a boycott.
The host of the February 28 show, Chris Rock, who is black, has come under pressure to pull out – but so far he has laughed off the controversy. Ricky Gervais has also been joking about the furore, saying: “I hope all the Chinese actors are boycotting the Oscars too.”
He added: “I can't believe I'm not invited to The Oscars. As a protest, I'm not going then.”
Michael Moore, the documentary maker, said he will not attend. But Kanye West said a boycott was misguided, and failed to recognise the real problems facing African Americans.
“Why we worried about the Oscars?” he said.
“We need to be worried about what's going on in Flint and Chicago. MLK didn't die for shows and trophies.”
And Donald Trump on Wednesday jumped into the fray, saying he was not particularly concerned by the boycott and that he had watched with interest an interview in which it was pointed out that black people have the Black Entertainment Television awards.
“It would certainly be nice if everybody could be represented properly. Hopefully that’s the case, but maybe it’s not the case,” he said.
“If somebody deserves it. I mean, I’ve watched over the years where African Americans have in fact received Academy Awards and have in fact been represented.
“And this is not one of those years, but over the years I’ve seen numerous black actors and African American actors receive awards and I think that’s great. This doesn’t happen to be one of those years.”
Clooney, however, said that the failure by the Academy did matter.
“I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table.”
He said Creed, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton had been snubbed.
“But honestly, there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars.”
Date Posted: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 863
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