‘Straight Outta Compton’ Producer on Lack of Oscar Diversity: ‘It’s Embarrassing’

Straight Outta Compton
Courtesy of Universal

Straight Outta Compton” exec producer Will Packer has weighed in on the 2016 Oscar nominations’ lack of diversity.

In a lengthy Facebook post, Packer applauded performances by performers of color and called his fellow Academy members to action, pleading with them to focus on hiring minorities in the future. He also mentions that the all-white acting nominees and the resulting #OscarsSoWhite Twitter trend cast a shadow on the entire ceremony.

“But who I really want to applaud are some other actors, directors and producers who were at the top of their game this year,” Packer wrote. “A list that includes, but is not limited to, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, John Boyega, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tessa Thompson, Audra McDonald, Adepero Oduye, Samuel L.Jackson, Oshea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, F. Gary Gray and Ryan Coogler. Yes, they made us laugh. Yes, they made us cry. Yes, they made us angry. Yes, they made us think. Yes, they are all black. No, not one was nominated for the movie industry’s highest honor.”

He added, “To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat—it’s embarrassing. It’s unfair to the performers of color who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line AND DELIVERED with their projects this year. It’s also unfair to the white actors, writers, producers and directors who gave everything they had to create career defining content only to have it marred by the fact that a lack of diversity calls into question the legitimacy of The Academy’s choices.”

Packer was not the only one to weigh in on the dearth of minority nominees today. Oscar host Chris Rock shared this promo for the awards, in which he refers to the ceremony as the “White BET Awards.”

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  1. Jerry Oliver says:

    The reason why Straight Out of Compton was not nominated was no because of the “black” cast it was because they portrayed their Jewish Manager as a cheat and the majority of the members are Jewish.

  2. Jo says:

    Regardless of station in life, Blacks still want a hand out.

  3. Dee Thompson says:

    “How I Went To The Oscars Without A Ticket—true story is a faith-based inspirational book that I wrote and was published in 2009. It is my true story that GOD granted me the privilege to go to the 69th Oscars and the Governor’s Ball. It is my small testimony to hopefully inspire people to pursue their dreams and never give up and have faith. Being raised in the church and from the South I was marveled from movies and what was on television. It was very influential in our lives in the South. We were entertained and motivated by this magical world. It seemed world’s away, but we loved it and all the players involved. I remember being on my best behavior as a kid so I could see the once a year shows that televised only once a year. Cinderella, The Wizard of Oz, Beach Blanket Bingo, etc. We saw performances and aspired to be that. The innocence of children see only that until we grow up and then realize we are different and fears influence us of somehow our lifestyle and family legacy is challenged in the jobs we choose. Entertainers are the only jobs were the workers are idolized. We must be careful what we do in this industry and how we portray ourselves in story telling and acknowledging their performances. We can do this. Not only the world is watching but, more importantly our children. Remember we are the adults. Let’s start acting like it.

  4. Heidijo123 says:

    “Holding onto anger, resentment, and frustration is like drinking a cup of poison; then waiting for the other person to die.”

  5. Chive Davis says:

    this also proves, that those insipid, constant, and ubiquitous radio ad buys in LA, starting after xmas, does nothing. S O C, was advertised directly to the academy, yet S O C, only got a nod for the white scribes. all the film award ‘shows’, are just bogus free ad buys for the mega oligarch owned 5 media cos.

  6. Jacene says:

    You can’t force people to be diverse. If you want things to go your way, create your own Studio, make your own movies, then create your own awards show and see how that works out for you.

    I’m blackish and I don’t like rap. I thought that film was old news and essentially boring. I’m tired of our people complaining when they’re making millions.

  7. Trev Hall says:

    Tough S!!t

  8. Sal U. Lloyd says:

    Your youth-oriented genre movie received a very unexpected nomination for original screenplay. What more did you want? An ensemble award???

  9. Jake says:

    Mr Packer,
    Your thoughtful letter to the Academy would hold more water if you yourself had hired a “diverse” group of writers to write your movie STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. In fact, you had 4 (!!!) writers on this movie and not a single ONE was African American. A movie about the most successful rap group in history, about the struggle to get out of poor black Los Angeles, about their challenges of facing racism and censorship and you hired 4 white people to tell their story. Mr Packer, YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER!!! Did you not find ONE talented African American writer in Hollywood to be included in this team!?!?! Before we attack a group of elite movie people, let’s start with those who have been lucky enough to “make it” in Hollywood who are not giving their fellow African Americans the opportunities they certainly had.

    Also take it up Universal who campaigned for your movie without highlighting any of the talented actors in it. They went very generic pushing the movie, the director and the cast and never really highlighted the individual actors in a way Fox pushed with their movies.

  10. Jake says:

    They’re movies!! Who cares? Entertainment by its very nature is subjective! Recognition? Bah! If your selfworh is based on others praising you or giving you awards then you have bigger worries than being snubbed. People who share your morals and standards are more connective to you then some one who just happens to share your skin color.

  11. Rudy Mario says:

    What the heck is the problem with blacks, hispanics, asians, native Americans and all these non whites ? Don’t you get it ? Here, let me make it simple for you peoples. Here is how it works:

    If you are an Anglo or a Jew, you jump 5 feet and get a gold medal.

    If you are other white, jump 6 ft and the gold medal is yours

    If you are a white gay or lesbian, jump 6.5 ft and take the gold.

    If you are white transgendered, please jump 7 ft for the gold.

    All others including blacks, chicanos, hispanics, asians, etc, you need to jump at least 10 ft to get the gold. And you should do that several times not just once.

    Now stop whining and get back to work.

  12. Kim says:

    Man, white people really do get their panties in a bunch when they’re called out. There are not roles for black people like there are whites, and when a black person or ANY race that isn’t white for that matter gets a good role and performs excellently they are snubbed. It’s EMBARRASSING that there are no other race but white in the acting categories. Period. That is why things like the BET Awards were created, to award black entertainment because places like the Oscars were not recognizing them. It’s a disgrace, and anyone who even tries to shut down this mans argument is a piece of scum. To even try to attempt to say this is purely based on “performance” is just laughable after all the history we have seen. Enough. I hope they can change, but with white people still thinking nothing is wrong with the idea of POC not getting equal opportunity and equal recognition we will never go anywhere, because apparently POC should just “deal with” the inequality we have to face. To all the Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, etc…we need to just keep fighting.

    • Alex says:

      African Americans make up a measily 13% of the population. They seem to quickly forget this around awards season. You just don’t have the numbers to break into one of the most elite little societies in the world, a fake little bubble largely run by Jews. Latinos make up roughly 18% of the population and you don’t see them complaining every chance they get. They’re greatful just to be living in this country.

      I do feel bad for black folks though because you were literally stripped from your native homeland and traded for the financial gain of greedy white men. You didn’t choose to come to this country like most of us. You were sort of imprisoned here. Pretty terrible what was done to your people. But nothing compared to the mass genocide of the Native American tribes that were here long before any whites. America was literally founded on the extinction of an entire race. The whites that came here were not only the smartest of the bunch, they were also risk takers, ruthless, and borderline sociopaths. That is the blood that is coursing through the veins of America today and largely why this country has been so successful at such a rapid pace. It is what it is. Survival of the fittest you know. The whites that run America today make these terrorist groups look like children in a park, that’s all I can say about that. Scary people.

      At the same time, black people should be stoked. Via the slave trade, whites unintentionally super accelerated the evolutionary process of your people. Whites selected the strongest, biggest, toughest Africans and selectively bread them with each other. Often fusing top shelf white DNA into the mix. White people literally created your people, like some crazy mad science project from an Xmen movie. The key to creating a super race is introducing genetic variance. African Americans today have the best genetics from both the black and white gene pool embedded into their DNA. Look at regular Africans and look at African Americans. There is a massive difference. Without “evil” whites, you would still look like Africans. Africans Americans with white blood in them are often quite beautiful as well as highly intelligent.

      So knowing that, i can see why AAs get upset, because they know they’re more gifted than most whites. I get it. It would suck if you saw the prize going to people that were inferior by DNA. There was a time when all NBA players were white. Now they’re almost all black. Your time will come.

      Anyways, you got a President in the White House which is remarkable given that blacks just don’t have the numbers to make such a thing possible. A lot of help came from these “evil” white people that supposedly hate you. Nah, not even. White people do not hate black people at all. A few more generations and everyone will be the same color pretty much. Race will be a thing of the past.

      Lastly, I saw all the Oscar-potential movies with black actors in them this year and although some of the performances were good, none were good enough for best actor/actress category. Maybe only Will Smith’s performance in Concussion but nah, not on the same level as Leo and Matt Damon. Sorry. The only real snub was Straight Out of Compton not getting nominated for best picture. That was a great movie. I remember bumping NWA in my moms minivan on my way to school. I think i was in 4th grade at the time. My mom loved rap music too. We were your classic white upper middleclass family and we loved black music. All of my white friends did too. “She Swallowed It”, that was my favorite NWA tune. Even my mom thought it was hilarious. Ahhhh, white people aren’t so bad.

      • Jacene says:

        I’m mixed and I think this argument is absolutely ridiculous. It’s an awards program.

        If idolatry means more to anyone than God’s grace, you are lost. Anyone fortunate enough to make films and/or Television, needs to “Re-Prioritize” their goals and reasons for what they do.

        The love of the artistry used to be the reason. Now it’s acknowledgement, statues, fame and money. Very sad state of affairs.

  13. Larry says:

    The answer to every question below is black actors are better actors then white actors. Even former rappers are better actors then most white trained actors. Everybody knows this. The Academy should only nominate the best.

  14. James says:

    White rage, white rage!! You people really get your feelings hurt when someone you don’t know calls out an organization you don’t even belong to. Ask yourself what’s the source of your anger and dislike. Only then will things change.

  15. anonymous says:

    I’m a BAFTA voter and I nominated two of the black actors mentioned above. I didn’t 100% absolutely love everything about either movie, but recognized those performances as stand outs. But clearly their movies didn’t get the same critical attention or marketing push as other movies did this year, so my vote didn’t resound or match the votes of others.

    It’s actually a year for some really bad nominations when all of these popcorn sequels like Star Wars VII and Mad Max IV are nominated and not so much the serious smaller films. So I would blame the big studio marketing machine(s) over the alleged “racism” of any of the academies. They pushed a lot of garbage and that’s what people prioritized in their viewing lists, and a lot of garbage made the nominations, sadly. A good year for film, a really bad year for awards!

  16. Chizz says:

    This Packer guy is a clown. First his idea of “diversity” clearly only means black people and english-language only. You want diversity? How about advocating some non-American, non-english speaking nominees? Second, he’s arguing Creed and Compton reach “heights of cinematic achievement”????? That is a complete joke; those movies were okay but absolutely not best picture or best director material. Why is Variety even publishing this crap ?

  17. Spider says:

    His comments are geared towards African-American talent. Why doesn’t he mention the Latinos, Asians, etc. that made us laugh, cry, love, think and mystified us through great cinematic performances? I thought the word “diversity” meant every ethnicity. What’s up with that, Will Packer???

  18. Tracey says:

    Why should anyone get an award they haven’t earned because of their skin colour?

  19. Ronnie says:

    Idris Elba, Benicio Del Toro, Jason Mitchell and Will Smith were really the only strong performers whose work was worthy of nominations. However, none of these performances were given a strong enough push by their studios to highlight their work. Universal tried to promote Compton, but their campaign never focused on the performances. When you look at how nominees like Leonardo and Damon were promoted in comparison, how is the actor to get attention in comparison. But the real problem is casting. Look at the nominated roles and think of an actor of color that could have played the part just as well if given the opportunity. It only seems like in recent years that people of color are only noticed in subservient film roles and that too is a problem.

  20. Alex says:

    “MAD MAX: Fury Road” got the best film nom that “Straight Otta Compton” should have gotten, studios like FOX knows how to get out their and campaign for nominations. FOX has a piece of 4 of the 8 films nominated, it may not sound fair but they got out there and worked for them. Did Mr Packer do that?

  21. Trudy says:

    These aren’t called the “Entitlement Awards,” it’s the Academy Awards for “Acting” not skin color.

    • Sara says:

      Exactly, Mad Max is fundamentally a solid movie with strong performances and it was spectacular to look at, Compton lagged in parts had some good performances and frankly the cinematography took me out of the film several times. I was very aware I was watching a thing, very distracting. It’s a decent movie but I don’t understand the snub talk at all. Decent does not an Academy Award film make.

      It bothers me that Packers idea of diversity is so limited.

  22. Julienne says:

    Boo-Freakin-Hoo! Do you really think that “WINNING AWARDS,” should be based on ‘SKIN COLOR?!”

    THAT MAKES YOU THE RACIST!

    Listen your yourself. This isn’t about NOT being able to eat at a Restaurant…or sit in the front of the Bus….use separate bathrooms! IT’S AWARDS…..NOT CIVIL RIGHTS.

    • Tracey says:

      Blacks make up 13% of the US population. Why should they be everywhere and anywhere in the entertainment industry when statistically they are 10% of the population? What do they want – that half the actors on tv shows be black when they only make up 10% of the population. Pathetic. Quality performances are the only performances that should be nominated for Oscars and nothing else matters.

  23. Lisa says:

    Most of these comments are rooted from fear of losing a place in privilege. I don’t think white men, a population that makes up most of the film industry, has the right to comment about the pain that minorities and women feel when they are purposely excluded. And if we speak up we get insulted. How dare we challenge the white man’s position!
    I’m getting tired of feeling tired about all this. Yet, I know I have to keep pushing, otherwise the we’ll be engulfed in the huge white mass of white male dominance.

  24. anthony says:

    As to Chris Rock’s reference as:“White BET Awards.” Why doesn’t he boycott the Academy as the host and Quit!! The ring of the bell of: “lack of diversity.” is deafening. Will Packer’s who’s statement is:”To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.” is insulting.As a member of the Academy he knows full well the every categorize by each branch.I.E.ACTORS for actors, DIRECTORS by Directors.BEST PICTURES by Producers and on and on. Packer’s statements suggest that the WHOLE Academy is biases against blacks.Packer, stop flaming the unjust and hypocritical self serving unjust reasons that the whole membership of the Academy are racist.Also Ms, Boone should be ashamed, because she was the first person to make the statement about;ALL WHITE nominees.Shame on you Ms. Boone,you’re the President supposedly representing whole membership.

  25. Harris says:

    I understand the outrage, but the only real snub was Idris Elba IMO. “Creed” is a mediocre formula film and not the masterpiece confused people think it is. It’s well made and has good performances, but only Stallone is a standout. “Straight outta Compton” is good, but is it great ? Since a film by a Latino got the most nominations, the Academy can’t be THAT racist anymore, or? I agree that there is a bias based on a dominant WASP membership, but I wouldn’t call that ‘racist’. The Academy needs to improve their membership by including more minorities and people of color and women, but that’s all they can do. You can’t force them to vote ‘black’ if they don’t like your movie.

    • Bill B. says:

      Exactly. People keep blaming the Oscars. The only serious possibility was Elba. There was a small chance for Jordan, but the competition was too strong and all the nominees are better than Straight Outta Compton. Want nominations? Make better pictures.

  26. Jimmy Green says:

    would you like some cheese to go with that whine?

  27. Mnk says:

    Why should people get nominated just because of their skin color?

  28. You know who says:

    There is a lack of honesty and accountability all through this group and the producers trying to get their projects nominated. Take Supporting Actress. Rooney Mara has 6 more minutes of screentime than Cate Blanchett but is in Supporting (it’s a new record number of minutes in the category–71). She should have been placed in the Lead category where she belonged but instead she is taking up the spot of someone who is actually in a true supporting role. Shameful.

  29. Nanny Mo says:

    Disgusting. It only makes the times that people of color win, look like a shake down instead of talent. It’s embarrassing people think this way today.

  30. Trudy says:

    I think it’s embarrassing that you think that people should get awards just because of their skin color.

    I’m Latin and I don’t think I should get something I didn’t earn. Get over yourself…and work harder.

    I didn’t see you bitchin and moaning in 2013 when Black Actors & Actresses dominated the Nominations with “12 Years a Slave,” & “The Help?”

    Make better movies! By the way, “Straight outta Compton,” was boring. Nothing new. Been there done that.

    • Sam E. says:

      You are missing the point Trudy dear. There were some standout talent this year amongst people of color but the academy keeps nominating the same people almost every year. Jennifer L. Cate Blanchett, etc. this means that it is high time to either include a more diversed academy or higher more people of color to fill some of these roles. You can not tell me that there are no talented black actors in Hollywood. I am a white woman and watching the oscars and seeing a sea of white people each year, I won’t be watching. It is embarrassing because unless you live in Beverly Hills, it does not reflect the world that I live in.

      • Trudy says:

        That would be your own opinion. Why don’t you create your own Film appreciation commission for blacks only?

  31. ObserverMI says:

    How about base it on the final product and not it’s wrapping, huh?
    Diversity isn’t forced for then it looses it’s meaning.

    Are these people really ‘that ignorant’ to what they say and imply, let alone just how racist and bigoted it is in itself?
    Unbelievable the shallow minds.

    • Lisa says:

      Not to mention, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Or is specifying a white male being repeatedly nominated too threatening?

  32. angrydogbrent says:

    Never thought it would be such a burden to be white. Thanks, you racist producer. Anybody who comments back to me negatively is part of the bigger problem.

  33. Mike says:

    I think it’s embarrassing that black people want the Academy to recognize great black filmmakers…just as we about to get “Ride Along 2” and “Fifty Shades of Black”…

    I’m just joking. But’s it is kind of awkward.

    • Claude says:

      Zero because that award show doesn’t even really celebrate actors that much. It was not until this year that they even televised the best actor/actress award at the ceremony. Honestly all that award show really does is give a little recognition to the black artists that are shut out of predominantly white award shows. I’m tired of hearing this argument because it’s based on a fallacy. The worst part of it is, is that white people win Bet awards every year! Latest winners: Iggy Azalea, Sam Smith, Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, etc.

  34. Sad for this Country says:

    How many white actors nominated in the BET awards?

    • Trudy says:

      Yeah-right? And when’s the last time a white, or asian, or middle eastern girl, won “Miss Black America?”

      Stop Race-Baiting…and make better movies loser.

      • Trudy says:

        “WINNING AWARDS,” should be based on ‘SKIN COLOR?!”

        THAT MAKES YOU THE RACIST!

        Listen your yourself. This isn’t about NOT being able to eat at a Restaurant…or sit in the front of the Bus….use separate bathrooms! IT’S AWARDS…..NOT CIVIL RIGHTS.

      • mla28ny says:

        You do realize (idiot) that those programs were created BECAUSE blacks were NEVER nominated in the past. Now we get nominated once in a while.

  35. Eric says:

    Just cancel all awards shows. Who needs then anymore. Just another excuse for the rich and famous to get drunk. There were MANY snubs. So get over it. The Naacp awards will be on in a few weeks, and I’m sure no honkies are nominated!

    • Unknown says:

      Why? Because certain group(s) cry about not getting nominated? Really? Many award shows are meaningless but the Academy Awards, the various Guild Awards, Critics Choice Awards, & Golden Globes have merit & certain credibility. Your perception is short sighted on the matter.

      • angrydogbrent says:

        Eric has a point. Unknown is just judging him unfairly.

        Also, screw this diversity crap. I’m so sick of hearing about it between races and the gays. Then somebody will respond to me and say “You need to calm down, bigot”. Shut up. You’re part of the problem.

  36. As an old white guy who has been accused by some of being a racist, I think Packer is absolutely right about this snub. Straight Outta Compton is a great movie and the performances are magnificent. What is wrong with the Academy?

    • Trudy says:

      Stop smokin that hootch. It’s distorting your judgement. “Compton” was a docudrama at best. NO Academy Awards for acting

  37. Michael anthony says:

    Will Smith? Concussion received lukewarm reviews and according to the trades, he was a long shot at a mom. Yet, because no blacks were nommed, he’s talked as if its a snub. Please! I guess people of color want quotas, regardless of merit. Compton deserved pic mom, but so did Star Wars. But in thus nabs view, only Compton is a snub.

    Better yet, demand better films. Spike Lee? The film was idiotic. Lee Daniels? No film, but look at how bad Empire has gotten. The only true snub was Elba. But then again, it was a Netflix film. They only rushed play dates in hopes of Oscar.

  38. Avrum Fine says:

    Wow! You’ve been given a level playing field, and that’s suddenly not good enough? Now THAT is embarrassing.

  39. Marvin Gay says:

    Will, was it “embarrasing” or OFFENSIVE? If it was “embarrassing”, embarrassing to who? Artisans of the African Diaspora, no matter how many generations removed, can be justifiably “offended”, but we have nothing for which to be “embarrassed”!

  40. Paula Thompson says:

    So when he says people of color, he only means black people!!!! Way to stand for “people of color”!!!

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