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Anthony Anderson: Black Talent Can’t Wait for Change, Need to Bank on Themselves

Anthony Anderson
Rachel Murray/WireImage

This column is part of Variety’s Broken Hollywood feature. For more execs and their opinions on the state of Hollywood, click here.

They talk about the blackout at the Oscars. Let’s look at the blackout that’s been on network television. Why is that? I don’t think that question can truly be answered by the minority. When you look at America as a whole, everyone from every walk of life is living in this melting pot, but when you look at television, it isn’t a true or complete representation of what our society is. We all have stories to tell, but the stories that are being been told in network TV are one-sided. Now we’re finally starting to sprinkle some color into those stories — and they are stories that people are interested in seeing. But that interest has always been there. It’s not a fad.

It’s a shame that it’s taken that long to come back around. If you look at how some networks built their audiences — UPN, CW — they built them with minorities. Their original programming was all minority programming. It did well, but they moved away from it once they were established. I find that interesting.

It feels empowering to be successful. There’s a sense of responsibility to do the best that I can with our show, to help usher in the next crop of minority writers and producers, to bring them along on this ride, to show them how this train works. I never wanted to be just an actor. I’ve been preaching about ownership and intellectual property because that’s where the real power is — the power to dictate what you want to do, and how you want to do it.

The all-white Oscar nominations? It’s just another day in my world. That’s just how it is. I look at the work that we’ve done. Outside of “Selma,” what other movies were out there where we were able to shine? What other opportunities were out there for minority actors? There’s always going to be the black- and brown-out if we’re not given the opportunity to showcase our work. We have to keep doing what we’re doing. We have to not depend on anyone. We have to tell our stories ourselves. We have to go back to guerrilla filmmaking, like Spike Lee did. Spike Lee was Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter. We have to band together as a community. We have to leave our egos at the door. We have to bank on and invest in ourselves. That’s where the power comes from.