Two-time Oscar Nominee Viola Davis Blames White Oscars on Entire ‘Hollywood Movie-Making System’

Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP
Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

Two-time Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis won’t be attending this year’s Academy Awards, but she weighed in on the race controversy surrounding this year’s all-white Oscar nominatons at Elle’s 6th Annual Women in Television Dinner on Thursday.

Explaining she feels this year’s lack of black nominees is to blame on producers and studios failing to envision black actors in major roles, the 50-year-old mostly absolved the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) of blame in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. 

“The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system,” Davis said.

She then asked, “The films that are being made – are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?”

Davis, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 (The Help) and 2008 (Doubt), said that producers should ask themselves during the casting process, “Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?”

“The problem isn’t even our pay,” she told ET. “You could probably line up all the A-list Black actresses out there [and] they probably don’t make what one A-list white woman makes in one film. That’s the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?”

The actress, who said she’ll be going on vacation during this year’s Oscars, was asked about actor-singer Tyrese Gibson’s plea to Chris Rock to step down as this year’s Oscars host.

“Like I said, the Oscars are not really the issue,” Davis said. “It’s a symptom of a much greater disease. But if he does, I hope he takes it as an opportunity to make a statement, a social statement about change. It’s 2016.”

Davis became the first woman of color to win an Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a drama series for her role in ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder last fall.

For the second consecutive year, all 20 Oscar nominations in the four major acting categories have gone exclusively to white actors. As a result, a growing number of prominent Hollywood entertainers have weighed in on the renewed controversy, and some are pledging to boycott.

The 88th Academy Awards will air live on Feb. 28 on ABC.


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