Director Steven Spielberg has said that he feels there is no “inherent or dormant racism” amongst the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which chooses nominees for the Oscars.
Spielberg – who has been won three Oscars – also explained that he’s “not 100% behind” The Academy’s proposal to remove the memberships of those who have not been part of the industry for a period in excess of ten years.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Spielberg outlined his position whilst discussing this year’s nominees, saying:
“You have to look back a couple of years, where Lupita [Nyong’o] was recognized for Twelve Years a Slave, Twelve Years a Slave won Best Picture, you know? I don’t believe that there is inherent or dormant racism because of the amount of white Academy members.”
Spielberg then went on to say he thought Straight Outta Compton should have been nominated for Best Picture this year.
On the subject of stripping the memberships of those who’ve been outside of the industry, Spielberg added:
“I’m also not 100 percent sure that taking votes away from Academy members who have paid their dues and maybe are retired now and have done great service – maybe they’ve not won a nomination, which would have given them immunity to the new rules, but they have served proudly and this is their industry too – to strip their votes? I’m not 100 percent behind that.”
The nominees for the Oscars have been the subject of controversy this year, spawning the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, after the twenty acting nominees were all white for the second year running.
Will Smith has announced he will boycott the awards, saying:
“We’re part of this community but at this current time, we’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is okay. I think I have to fight for and protect the ideals that make our country and make our Hollywood community great. So when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it’s not reflecting that beauty.”
This year’s ceremony takes place on February 28.