Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has accused the Academy Awards of “moving in the wrong direction” amid controversy over lack of diversity.
For the second year running, no black or minority actors have been nominated in the four Oscars acting categories.
Clooney, who has won two Academy Awards, said: “We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
Speaking to Variety, Clooney said: “If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job.
“Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?”
He said African Americans “have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough”, arguing that Creed, Concussion, Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton should have received more nominations.
“I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees – like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman,” said Clooney. “And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table.”
He added: “By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
Star Wars actress Lupita Nyong’o also said she is “disappointed by the lack of inclusion” in the nominations.
Nyong’o, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for 12 Years a Slave in 2014, wrote on Instagram that she stands with those “calling for change” and that the awards should be a “diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today”.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs vowed to review its membership as stars pledged to boycott the ceremony.
And British director Steve McQueen, whose 12 Years a Slave won best film, has said black actors need to be given a “fair bite”
McQueen told the BBC: “I think racism has a lot to do with it, but also the whole idea of people not being adventurous enough in thinking outside of the box as such, of what they possibly think is the norm.
“It can’t be about box office, because I think black actors and stories along those lines have been doing very, very well, obviously.
“So it’s about executives in cinema and film studios, television, cable networks, giving those storylines and those actors a fair bite.”
Director Spike Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November, is among those boycotting the ceremony, saying on Instagram that he “cannot support” the “lily white” Oscars.
Jada Pinkett Smith has also refused to attend because of the number of white nominees, saying in a video message on Facebook that people of colour should disregard the awards.
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