Aaron Sorkin has clarified his recent comments about Hollywood’s diversity problem, telling Variety that he was attempting to explore the issue at an industry event rather than question its existence.
On Saturday, the trade reported that Sorkin said he was unaware of the problems minorities face in the entertainment industry during an event at the Writers Guilds’ WGFestival in Los Angeles. “Are you saying that women and minorities have a more difficult time getting their stuff read than white men and you’re also saying that [white men] get to make mediocre movies and can continue on?” Sorkin reportedly said at the event. “You’re saying that if you are a woman or a person of color, you have to hit it out of the park in order to get another chance?”
Then the West Wing creator offered his assistance in rectifying the problem. “What can I do [to help]?” Sorkin said. “I do want to understand what someone like me can do … but my thing has always been: ‘If you write it, they will come.'”
In the wake of the trade’s report, Sorkin has spoken out to let people know that this “isn’t news” to him. “Of course I am aware of the diversity problem,” he told Variety. “I was the one who brought the subject up Saturday morning and kept coming back to the subject.”
Sorkin explained to the publication that he wasn’t asking questions because he was unaware of the issues; he was repeating questions he received from the audience in order to stimulate the discussion. “Is it because studio heads aren’t green-lighting the movies? Is it because studio executives aren’t bringing the projects to studio heads? Is that because agents are bringing the projects to studio executives? Is it because agents aren’t getting the material? I was asking questions to a group of people who understand this problem firsthand,” he said.
The Academy Award-winning screenwriter also iterated his desire to help improve the industry in this regard. “The fact that there’s a diversity problem isn’t news to me,” he said. “One of the questions I asked was, ‘What can I do? If you had a remote control over me, what would you have me do on Monday?’ I walked away from the session with more questions than answers but I absolutely know more when I left than I did when I walked in.”