'I'm hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment.'
Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Steve McQueen, the only black director to ever win Best Picture (in 2014, for 12 Years a Slave), is the latest to weigh in on the controversy surrounding this year’s Oscars and diversity in Hollywood as a whole.

In an interview with The Guardian, McQueen said the situation with the Academy and the film industry reminds him of MTV in the 1980s. “Could you imagine now if MTV only showed music videos by a majority of white people, then after 11 o’clock it showed a majority of black people? Could you imagine that happening now?” he asked. “It’s the same situation happening in the movies.”

“Hopefully, when people look back at this in 20 years, it’ll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983,” the British director added, referring to a clip of the late singer criticizing MTV for failing to air videos from black artists. ““I don’t even want to wait 20 years. Forgive me; I’m hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.”

Numerous celebrities have spoken out after the Oscars nominated an all-white slate of actors for the second consecutive year. The Academy announced it’s taking “dramatic steps” to increase diversity in its membership, but some, including Spike Lee (who praised the changes but says he still won’t attend the Oscars), have argued the bigger issue lies with the film industry itself, a point McQueen agrees with.

“One could talk about percentages of certain people who are Academy members and the demographics and so forth, but the real issue is movies being made,” he said. “Decisions being made by heads of studios, TV companies and cable companies about what is and is not being made. That is the start. That is the root of the problem.”

McQueen added, “I’m not interested in just talking. This is an important issue. It’s an us issue. Again, this is not about black, not about white, this is about us how we want to improve our environment and our society, and who we are. So, let’s get on with it. Let’s fix this. It’s ridiculous! There’s no real debate is there … really?”

Head to The Guardian to read McQueen’s full interview.