Spike Lee picked up an honorary Oscar at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences annual Governors Awards on Saturday, and used his acceptance speech to blast the lack of diversity in Hollywood — and issue a warning to white entertainment industry executives.
“Everybody in here probably voted for Obama but when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio,” Lee said, according to E! “So we can talk ‘yabba yabba yabba’ but we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this. This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous.”
“I don’t know if you noticed,” the director continued, “but the United States census bureau says by the year 2043, white Americans are going to be the minority in this country. And all you people out there in the position of hiring, you better get smart because you’ll work for us. Reflect what this country looks like.”
Lee, who has been busy promoting his new film Chi-Raq, also praised Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs for her efforts to promote more diversity, but said “we got a long way to go.”
Boone Isaacs, in her own remarks, reminded the dozens of A-listers in attendance at the Dolby Ballroom in the Hollywood and Highland Center that “it’s important to mention yesterday’s horrifying attacks in Paris.”
“All of us here stand in solidarity in support of France and the French people,” she said, according to USA Today. “We also mourn those that died. We send our deepest affections to our brothers and sisters in France.”
Boone Isaacs also announced a new Academy diversity initiative called “A20/20,” a five-year plan that would see the organization “hire, mentor, encourage and promote talent in all areas of our profession,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Among the dozens of celebrities in attendance Saturday night were Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Michael Keaton, Amy Schumer, Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Samuel L. Jackson, Daniel Craig, Michael Caine, Lily Tomlin, Mark Ruffalo, and Johnny Depp. Actresses Geena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds were the evening’s other guests of honor.