MPAA’s Chris Dodd on Oscar Diversity Issue: ‘We Must Do a Better Job’

Chris Dodd Diversity Oscars
Joe Schildhorn / Shutterstock

MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said  the industry “must do a better job of cultivating and recognizing diversity” in the wake of criticism of the Oscars and the industry as a whole over the lack of African-Americans, Latinos and Asians among the list of nominees.

As the chief of the trade association representing the movie studios, Dodd is among the highest-profile industry figures to weigh in on the awards controversy.

“Our community tells a wide array of diverse stories, and we are very proud of that. But, we can always push ourselves to be better, and we must,” Dodd said in comments in Washington on Wednesday at a MPAA event sponsored along with the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council.

“We must do a better job of cultivating and recognizing diversity,” he said. “The film community is better served when a wider array of voices is celebrated.”

Dodd said that he shares the disappointment expressed by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs about this year’s list of nominees.

“To echo her comments, while we celebrate the achievements of this year’s nominees, the absence of diversity is undeniable and should initiate a healthy and productive debate about what can be done to make progress.”

He also said that he spoke to Isaacs on Wednesday and “expressed my support for efforts she outlined to expedite changes in Academy membership recruitment to ensure greater inclusion. It’s long overdue.”

On Monday, Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith posted separate messages saying that they would not attend the Feb. 28 ceremony because of the lack of diversity among the nominees. Lee was not just critical of the Academy’s choices, but said that the “real battle” was “in the executive office of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks. This is where the gate keepers decide what gets made and what gets jettisoned to ‘turnaround’ or scrap heap.”

Isaacs issued a statement on Monday evening, saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated” over the lack of diversity among the nominees. She said the Academy would conduct a review of membership recruitment.

Dodd established a diversity and multicultural outreach program in 2013 to partner on events and screenings with groups like the  Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, the American Black Film Festival, the National Assn. of Latino Independent Producers, and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

The D.C. event featured a conversation with Tichina Arnold of Starz’s “Survivor’s Remorse” moderated by John Gibson, the MPAA’s advisor for diversity and multicultural outreach.

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  1. Chan says:

    Waitress Sandwich

  2. John Miller says:

    Dodd comes out of his cave to: 1.) Collect his paycheck and 2.) Say something innocuous. Well done!

  3. Jaddy Baddy says:

    If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
    is gonna start giving out Awards for Participation,
    they gonna have to move the show to a new 24
    hour format, and they gonna need a whole helluva
    lot more Oscars.

  4. Gwen Kelly says:

    If there truly were opportunities for talent of color to be equally successful in this industry just like their white counterparts e.g.going to film school, having internships, successfully climbing and navigating the ladder at the studios, writing the great screenplay, producing great projects, et. al., then maybe just maybe the whining ceases. Like so many places where diversity and inclusion conversations are taking place,those aspiring to make their mark in their life’s work still so often feel they are on the other side of a big glass wall.

  5. Claude Meru says:

    Why is it “our” job? The whining is off the charts. How about merit over quota?

    • Victor Bravo says:

      Claude, I’m assuming from your name that you are a man… and likely Caucasian. You have NO IDEA how much more difficult it is for a woman or someone of color to make it in this town. I’ve actually had producers pass on my project after realizing I’m female. People who loved my script and couldn’t meet with me fast enough. A script that Oscar winners have told me is great. I have a guy’s name, so I understand why there may have been confusion. If I were some douchey dude in a trucker hat my film would have been made years ago… unfortunately, I have a vagina, which means I’ve had to work 3X as hard. That is not opinion, that is FACT. I swear to god, if I see one more WHITE MAN complain about the “whining” in Hollywood things will get hot. Please STFU.

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