Actor Forest Whitaker appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Wednesday, where he addressed the importance of finding “common ground” with President-elect Donald Trump, race relations in the U.S. and Hollywood’s habit of casting white males leads in film.
“We have to come to the table and find some common ground,” Whitaker told an audience during the interview Wednesday.
Whitaker, who was being honored for his peace building efforts through his nonprofit Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, told the room full of influencers, business and political elites that working with the incoming administration is worthwhile.
“Right now we’re polarized,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that are doubting that we’re going to move forward in a positive way, but we have to try.”
“And if it doesn’t happen,” Whitaker warned, “the people themselves have to stand up and speak — protest, movements, marches, however, to make their voices be heard.”
While the Academy Award-winner said there are things Americans “need to be working on” in terms of racial disharmony, Whitaker praised progress made in the era of Obama.
“To try and act like we haven’t had great progress is not true,” he said. “Obama didn’t fail, he changed the psyche of the nation and in some ways the world.”
The Star Wars: Rogue One star also addressed Hollywood’s overrepresentation of white people onscreen and onstage accepting awards.
“I think that certainly there are disparities where artists are not being recognized for their work at times, and it’s still being worked on,” Whitaker said. “The Academy is trying to be more inclusive.”
The 55-year-old actor will be seen next onscreen in The Forgiven, a drama based on the best-selling novel by Lawrence Osborne.
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