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Straight Outta Compton producer calls lack of Oscar diversity embarrassing

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Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Will Packer, one of the executive producers of Straight Outta Compton, has addressed the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees, calling it a “complete embarrassment” that those recognized were overwhelmingly white.

In an extended Facebook post, Packer praised the work of several black performers and filmmakers who didn’t earn nominations this year, including Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tessa Thompson, F. Gary Gray, and Ryan Coogler.

“Yes, they made us laugh,” Packer wrote. “Yes, they made us cry. Yes, they made us angry. Yes, they made us think. Yes, they are all black. No, not one was nominated for the movie industry’s highest honor.”

Indeed, all 20 acting nominees this year are white (for the second year in a row), as are all but one directing nominee (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who is Mexican). And none of the nominees for best picture features a predominantly black cast (meaning that Compton and Creed were passed over, to name two).

Packer, who is known for making films centered on black characters (Think Like a Man, Ride Along), added, “To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat — it’s embarrassing.”

But Packer also acknowledged that the Oscars are only one aspect of the diversity issue: “These films/performances and the scripts that drive them often go into development YEARS before they are released and thus in Oscar contention. We need more content produced by, written by, directed by and featuring filmmakers and actors of color being given the greenlight. We need them to start moving forward this year so in 2019 there are quality projects in contention!”

Read Packer’s full message above.

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