Robert Redford Weighs in on Hollywood’s Diversity Problem: It ‘Is What Moves the Ball for Me’

Sundance co-founder tells TheWrap that diversity is “one of the most valuable aspects of filmmaking” and the reason he started the film festival

On the heels of a backlash against Hollywood for the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations, Sundance co-founder Robert Redford weighed in on the issue, which he says is a big part of why he started the Park City, Utah film festival.

“I was concerned that we would lose one of the most valuable aspects of filmmaking, which was diversity. So, that’s what started Sundance,” the legendary actor and director told TheWrap at our interview studio in the Indiegogo Lounge.

While the conversation with TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman initially focused on Redford’s upcoming adventure “A Walk in the Woods,” the conversation turned to diversity in the movie business.

“Diversity is basically a description of independence, ” Redford said. “Diversity is what moves the ball for me, and I thought ‘give people a chance that have different points of view. Let the audience decide whether they like it or not. But give those voices a chance to be seen and heard.’”

But Redford, who won an Academy Award for directing the 1980 film “Ordinary People,” tried to distance himself from this year’s acting nominations — which went largely to white actors — drawing criticism of the Academy and sparking the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

“I’m a member of the Academy, I don’t occupy myself with what the Academy is doing or how it’s doing it,” he said.