David Oyelowo, whose performance in as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma was passed over for an Oscar nomination last year, has addressed the lack of diversity in the current roster of nominees.
The British actor interrupted his prepared remarks at a Los Angeles gala honoring Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, saying the group “has a problem” that “needs to be solved.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Oyelowo recounted how he met with Isaacs after his Oscar snub in 2015. “A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then,” he said. “We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”
“This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room,” he added. “I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.”
Oyelowo’s comments come after filmmaker Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith said they would not attend this year’s Oscars ceremony over the lack of diversity in the nominees. On Monday, Isaacs said the Academy will take “dramatic steps” to address the issue.
“While we celebrate [this year’s nominees’] extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” she said in a statement. “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.”