Rev. Jesse Jackson is taking Hollywood studios to task for their lack of diversity in a new op-ed piece.
“For the second year in a row, no actor or actress of color has been nominated for an Academy Award. That is a shameful streak,” Jackson wrote for USA Today. “But the growing outcry over the whitewashing of the prestigious golden statue and the industry it celebrates is a sign of at least some progress.”
“Today, some of the biggest names in show business — black and white — are speaking up and out about what amounts to Hollywood Apartheid,” he continued.
Jackson then went on to invoke the names of Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Danny DeVito, all of whom have spoken out about the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees. Jackson also praised AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs for her efforts to diversify the Academy, but cautioned there is a bigger problem.
“The people who can ‘greenlight’ a film, the people who make the key decisions about what and who the world will see at the local multiplex, are almost all white and all male,” he said.
He then quoted statistics from a recent study by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies that finds film studio senior management is 92 percent white and 83 percent male, with comparable numbers in the TV industry as well.
“By midcentury, America will be a majority minority country,” Jackson said. “But it is already clear that diversity is good for business. Films with diverse casts, according to the Bunche Center report, enjoyed the highest median global box-office receipts and the highest median return on investment.”
“Open your eyes, Hollywood. It’s time to flip the script,” he concluded.