Viola Davis Breaks Down Why The Academy Seems So Racist

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Following the calls for increased diversity spearheaded by Jada and Will Smith and #OscarsSoWhite, the twice-Oscar-nominated Viola Davis spoke out at Elle’s 6th Annual Women in Television Dinner. “The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system,” she told ET. She said that the main issue she’s seeing is with the lack of big-time, serious distribution for Black films. “How many Black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?” she told ET. “Can you cast a Black woman in that role? Can you cast a Black man in that role?” She’s right. The primary producer of primarily Black-casted entertainments is Tyler Perry, whose movies are often treated as little more than a laugh line. For every Lee Daniels’ The Butler, there is a 50 Shades of Black. That’s to say nothing of the prestige roles typically available to Black actors. Davis’s most recent nomination was for The Help, a drama about a young white girl coming to realize that her maids are, you know, human. “The problem isn’t even our pay,” Davis told ET. “You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list white woman makes in one film. That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no Black films being produced, what is there to vote for?” Davis went on to say that she would be skipping the Academy Awards. Not out of a moral stance, necessarily, but rather because she was going on vacation.

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