Charlotte Rampling says Oscars diversity debate is ‘racist to whites’

'Perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,' says the Best Actress nominee

Best Actress nominee Charlotte Rampling has suggested that the ongoing debate about film industry diversity and the Oscars is “racist to whites”.

For the second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white, which has prompted criticism from actors including George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon and Will Smith, who has announced he will be boycotting the awards ceremony next month (February).

However, British actress Rampling has offered a very different take on the controversy during a French radio interview, saying (translated from French): “It is racist to whites. One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list.”​

Asked if the Oscars should consider introducing quotas to improve diversity in their nominations, Rampling replied: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted. People will always say, ‘Him, he’s less handsome’; ‘Him, he’s too black’; ‘He is too white’. Someone will always be saying, ‘You are too [this or that]’… But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

When the interviewer replied that black people in the film industry may feel like a minority, Rampling responded with a simple “no comment”.

Rampling is nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars for her performance in British drama film 45 Years. She will compete against Saoirse Ronan, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett and Brie Larson for the film industry’s top honour next month.