George Clooney Reacts to Lack of Diversity in Oscar Nods: ‘We Need to Get Better’

George Clooney
George Clooney attends the European premiere of  Karwai Tang/WireImage

George Clooney is weighing in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. The two-Academy Award winner penned an open letter on Tuesday, January 19, expressing his frustration over the industry’s lack of diversity.

“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job,” Clooney wrote in a statement to Variety. “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?”

As previously reported, celebs including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee announced they were going to boycott this year's Oscars ceremony after no people of color were nominated in the main acting categories for the second year in a row.

“I think we have a lot of points we need to come to terms with … 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,” Clooney, 54, continued. “Let’s look back at some of the nominees. 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 added, mentioning films like Creed, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton.

“But honestly, there should be more opportunity than that,” Clooney concluded. “There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs addressed the Oscars boycott in a statement on Monday, January 18, expressing her own frustration.

“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees,” she shared. “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”

Pinkett Smith has since thanked Isaacs. In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday, Will Smith’s wife wrote: “I would like to express my gratitude to the Academy, specifically Cheryl Boone Isaacs, for such a quick response in regard to the issue at hand. I look forward to the future.”

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