After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate any actor of color for the second year in a row, multiple high-profile actors and filmmakers spoke out in protest, calling for new measures to increase diversity. And on Friday, the Academy announced major structural overhauls, promising to double the number of its female and minority members by 2020.
But actor Ian McKellen says that while he “sympathizes” with those who say the Academy is prejudiced, that prejudice in Hollywood isn’t limited to race.
“As a representative of the industry they’re in, it’s receiving complaints which I fully sympathize with,” McKellen told Sky News. “It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry. It used to be women; it’s certainly gay people to this day. And these are all legitimate complaints, and the Oscar is the focus of those complaints of course.”
McKellen also elaborated on his comments in an interview with The Guardian, suggesting that the Academy’s voting body should be more reflective of what the rest of the world looks like.
“If you are trying to have a career, as a black or Hispanic actor in a state — California — where white people are now the minority, and you are being judged by an Academy where the vast majority are white, male, middle-aged and old … well, perhaps that is the wrong yardstick,” McKellen said.
McKellen, who is openly gay and has been nominated twice, also questioned why no openly gay man has ever won an Oscar for Best Actor. “I wonder if that is prejudice or chance,” he added.