Spike Lee says, ‘Getting a Black President Is Easier Than Getting a Black Studio Head’

Spike Lee and Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the Governors Awards  Courtesy of Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S
Spike Lee and Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the Governors Awards
Courtesy of Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S

Earlier at the event on Saturday, the Academy’s president launched a new initiative, A2020, that aims to promote more diversity in Hollywood over the next five years.

Accepting an honorary Oscar at the 7th annual Governors Awards, Spike Lee said, “It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio.”

The director told the industry audience gathered at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland, “We need to have some serious discussion about diversity” and he thanked Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, saying “she’s trying to do something that needs to be done” for raising the issue and making it part of the Academy’s current consciousness.

Earlier at the event, Boone Isaacs launched a new initiative, A2020, that aims to promote more diversity of age, gender, race, national origin and point-of-view, in Hollywood over the next five years.

“When it comes to fair and equal representation in our industry, words are are not enough,” the Academy president said. “We also have a responsibility to take action and we have an unique opportunity to do so now.”

Boone Isaacs noted that the Academy invited its most diverse group ever of new members this year and that 17 of the 51 members of the board of governors are now women.

“This must truly be an industry-wide commitment,” she said. “We ask you to partner with us again in this critically important initiative.”

The new Academy initiative is a five-year plan to study practices at the Academy with the aim of improving the diversity of its own staff and governance while also bringing new voices into the organization. It is also intended to encourage and to push the industry to examine its hiring practices and to begin to make changes.

Also on Saturday, the awards, voted by the Academy’s board of governors, recognized Gena Rowlands, who received an honorary Oscar and Debbie Reynolds (who wasn’t able to attend the proceedings), who was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. And, since diversity was the theme of the evening, Boone Isaacs commented that she was “pleased that this year two of our honorees happen to be women and one an African-American man.”

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter | Gregg Kilday

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