Jackson makes plea to Hollywood

Civil rights leader wants more minorities in showbiz

Just in time for the Academy Awards, Jesse Jackson’s renewing a push for greater inclusion of minorities in showbiz.

The civil rights leader asserts that the timing’s right to raise the issue, at a time when there’s been widespread recognition received by such actors as Forest Whitaker, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson – all front-runners for Oscars.

“While I feel joy for those outstanding performances, my concern is that people will take these as a substitute for progress,” Jackson said in an interview Wednesday with Daily Variety. “We want to keep the light on unfinished business.”

Jackson – who protested the 1996 Academy Awards due to the lack of African-American nominees – said that membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences needs to be expanded to include more African-Americans than the current 110 of 5,830.

“It’s really an issue of infrastructure,” Jackson added. “The voting doesn’t at all reflect the current reality of the population.”

Jackson’s in Los Angeles this week to lay the groundwork for an April conference, organized by Rainbow Push Entertainment Project and focusing on the issues of parity and equity.

No date’s been set yet but the confab would be designed to bring together top execs and experts to seek solutions in several areas of concern:

  • Hosts on many cable networks are nearly all Caucasian, or as Jackson puts it “All day, all night, all white.”

  • Minorities have limited access to jobs at major talent agencies.

  • Casting of minority actors remains a problem. Jackson noted, pointing to a UCLA study by Russell Robinson, released in December and showing that found 69 percent of Hollywood roles were reserved for white actors.

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