×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

If Hollywood Really Wants to Fix Its Diversity Issue, Ask Brad Pitt (Guest Column)

All the talk about #OscarsSoWhite won’t simply end when Chris Rock hosts the ceremony on Feb. 28. It’s clear that drastic changes must be implemented fairly soon in order to avoid a third consecutive Academy Awards sans any acting nominees of color.

Still, for all the promises made by the Academy to diversify its membership, and calls for blacks to become more proactive and start their own studios, I find it disturbing that many of Hollywood’s most prominent white celebrities have remained largely silent concerning the issue. Those who have spoken out, such as Julie Delpy and Charlotte Rampling, were offensively flippant and particularly clueless to the layered complexities of the racial issues at hand. Others have offered the same tired lip service to the need for diversity that’s been used for the past 50 years.

Industry heavyweights like George Clooney and Matt Damon, who have enormous influence both in front of and behind the camera, have the power to initiate changes required to create a more minority-friendly Hollywood. But are they really prepared to do that?

Perhaps they should engage in a dialogue with their fellow actor-producer Brad Pitt on the subject of diversity. Pitt has used his considerable clout in the industry to help produce pivotal films such as “12 Years a Slave,” which won Oscars for best picture, adapted screenplay (John Ridley) and supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o). The film helped catapult Nyong’o to bona-fide international stardom, and made her a fashion icon with major endorsement deals. In 2014, Pitt executive produced the civil rights film “Selma” and approved the hiring of indie director Ava DuVernay, who became the first African-American woman nominated for a Golden Globe for director.

To achieve real diversity, Hollywood has to be rewired from the inside out, which requires much more than studio executives finally seeing the light. Change will require major white celebrities recognizing and fighting alongside minorities for more varied storylines and faces of color on the big screen. They need to hire black and Latino writers, directors and actors for their projects. The old cliche of not finding any people of color qualified for those positions can be quashed by simply ending the decades-old Hollywood practice of the preferential hiring of friends and family as interns, PAs and assistants. Recruit some young people of color to learn the ropes, watch them bloom, and see the industry change for the better. This isn’t rocket science; it’s a simple commitment to the reality that most films are focused on some version of real life, and real life doesn’t just happen to white people.

Author and cultural critic Allison Samuels has written for Vanity Fair, Newsweek and Rolling Stone.

More Film

  • WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make

    WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents are Fired

    The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7. The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made [...]

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD The 80th anniversary release of “Gone with the Wind” has grossed $2.23 million in six nationwide screenings on four dates — a record as the [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Brothers Adam and Aaron Nee are directing the reboot. Mattel Films is partnering with Sony on the movie, which is based on Mattel’s beloved toy line that spawned [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content