If anyone is fluent in the adversity faced by minority thespians in Hollywood, it is surely veteran actress Viola Davis.
After this year’s Oscar nominees — which lacked diversity, majority people of color — were announced, many weren’t so thrilled and so the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was birthed. In addition to social media backlash, many minorities in the industry spoke out to share their thoughts on the topic, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee.
However, while they spoke directly about the Academy, Viola Davis shared a similar yet different viewpoint, Entertainment Weekly reported. On Wednesday (Jan.20) night at Elle’s Women in Television dinner, Davis said, “The problem is not with the Oscars. The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system.”
She then quoted on a number of questions that the Academy members — who are majority older, white men — should be asking themselves during nomination time:
“How many Black films are being produced every year?”
“How are they being distributed?
“The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?”
“Can you cast a Black woman in that role?”
“Can you cast a Black man in that role?”
Personally, I believe that Davis truly hit the nail on the head of what many were trying to articulate in regards to diversity in entertainment, specifically Hollywood. While many are boycotting the Oscars as the premier and affluent affair void of diversity, this issue actually stems from the movie-making system of Hollywood. Plus, this is the second year in a row that minorities have not been nominated in acting or directing roles. Not to mention, many times there are only a handful of black and brown faces in the audience, let alone accepting awards unfortunately.
I think Davis’s mentioning of Hollywood will remind individuals why it’s so important that we have more minorities occupying behind-the-scenes positions and not just in front of the camera. While it seems like those in front of the camera and relishing in the limelight have the power, they honestly don’t. So in short, we have to champion those that are breaking barriers in the industry like Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler and understand their importance, and continue pushing our stories, starring our own people.
And Davis concluded her speech, discussing the longtime hot topic of the gender pay gap, and how it disproportionately affects women of color. “You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there, [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list White woman makes in one film,” she said. “That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no Black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Viola?