George Clooney
George Clooney feels that Hispanics have it harder than African Americans in the film industryREUTERS/Fred Thornhill

The Oscar nominations were revealed on 14 January and for the second year in a row, all the major category nominees happened to be white. Reacting to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences snub of actors, actresses and filmmakers from non-white communities, many from within the Hollywood fraternity have voiced their disapproval.

In a recent interview with Variety magazine, George Clooney expressed his disappointment saying that the industry is "moving in the wrong direction".

"If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. 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?" the Tomorrowland actor said.

The issues with the film industry go way beyond black and white. Clooney discussed the gender pay disparity and lack of roles for older actresses as well. "I find it amazing that we're an industry that in the 1930s, most of our leads were women. And now a woman over 40 has a very difficult time being a lead in a movie. We're seeing some movement. Jennifer Lawrence and Patricia Arquette have made the loud pronouncement about wage disparity, have put a stamp on the idea that we got to pay attention."


Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee who plan on boycotting the Oscars for their lack of diversity, have been the faces of what is being called the #OscarsSoWhite protest.

Referring to the offence taken to the 2016 nominee list, Clooney commented: "I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn't representing them well enough.

"There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation; and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with Selma director Ava DuVernay — I think that it's just ridiculous not to nominate her."

On the subject of diversity in Hollywood, he added: "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."

Along with Smith and Lee, civil rights activist and Baptist minister Al Sharpton is also keen to boycott the award show and has encouraged people to refrain from watching the event.

"As you go across the board and people understand that they don't have to march, they don't have to picket, they don't have to go to Hollywood – all they have to do is turn the dial," he told the Hollywood Reporter.

"If enough people turn the dial, you can move that dial with the Nielsen ratings a couple of points, it will send shivers up the spine of many of the advertisers," he said.

Selma actor David Oyelowo made a strong statement in reference to the "lily white" Oscars, at the Martin Luther King Jr Legacy Award Gala in Los Angeles on 18 January. "For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of colour, actresses of colour, to be missed last year is one thing — for that to happen again this year is unforgivable," Oyelowo said while presenting an award to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Responding to the mass criticism, Oscar boss Boone Isaacs made a statement of her own, saying she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion" of minorities among the nominees and stressed that the Academy had been trying to change the old structure and make the nomination process a more inclusive one. "But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes," she said.

Smith appreciated Boone's quick response to the situation and responded on Twitter with a post that read: "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."

The day after the nominations were announced Chris Rock, the host for the 28 February award show himself called them the "White BET Awards".