As the 88th Academy Awards quickly approaches, seven of the 13 living Black actors who have walked away with a prestigious award from the Academy are breaking down their thoughts about inequality and race in Hollywood.
In the new issue of Variety, Lupita Nyong’o, who received the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave in 2013, says, “I don’t necessarily think there are roles written for me – At the end of the day, judging from what I’ve seen, the fact is there are more stories being told with Caucasian protagonists. That’s a fact; it’s not a feeling.” However Nyong’o remains confident that change is just around the river bend. “What we’re talking about is changing fact. I have no doubt it can change,” she shared with the publication. “I’m optimistic it can change. It’s one project at a time—that’s how it changes.”
Meanwhile, Mo’Nique, who battled rumors that she was “blackballed” by Hollywood following her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win in 2009, just last year told the publication, “Let’s have a real and open conversation. That’s when change will happen in Hollywood. To ask me about a trophy is really irrelevant. It’s just a trophy – But why is there such a pay gap? If there’s a Black film coming out and it’s an all-Black cast, why is it that it’s a low-budget film? The offers I oftentimes receive are less than what I got 11 years ago, and that was before I won the Oscar.”
In other words, it’s not a lack of roles that is deterring Black actors from nabbing coveted awards, but Hollywood’s overall mindset towards diverse actors that needs an upgrade.
On the other hand, movie veteran Morgan Freeman agrees that the Oscars play a role in the discussion, but believes the problem doesn’t begin with the show itself, but the lack of diverse voices in film. “If we’re going to talk about diversity in the film industry, we don’t need to start with the Academy Awards,” Morgan explained. “We need to start somewhere way back—with the producers, the directors, the casting agents, the writers.”
As another round of awards are handed out Sunday evening at the Dolby Theatre, these discussions are both important and necesary. While it appears even Black actors are on the fence regarding the true cause of inequality in entertainment, the conversation is just the beginning. What are your thoughts on Nyong’o, Freeman, and Mo’Nique’s comments regarding the imbalance among talent in Hollywood?
As previously reported, the Oscars air live on Sunday, Feb, 28, 2016, 5:30 PM/EST. In the meantime, hit the flip for more thoughts from stars like Dream Girls’ Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Whoopi Goldberg and Louis Gossett, Jr.