×

Aaron Sorkin Gets an Education on Hollywood’s Diversity Issue at WGFestival

UPDATED: Aaron Sorkin has clarified his comments about the lack of diversity in writers’ rooms, made Saturday at the WGFestival. “Of course I am aware of the diversity problem in Hollywood,” he told Variety. “I was the one who brought the subject up Saturday morning and kept coming back to the subject.”

He explained that his comments were about trying to engage in a conversation about why there isn’t more diversity: “Is it because studio heads aren’t greenlighting the movies? Is it because studio executives aren’t bringing the projects to studio heads? Is that because agents are bringing the projects to studio executives? Is it because agents aren’t getting the material? I was asking questions to a group of people who understand this problem firsthand.”

He said his questions below were simply repeating what he’d been asked by the audience. “The fact that there’s a diversity problem isn’t news to me,” he said. “One of the questions I asked was, ‘What can I do? If you had a remote control over me, what would you have me do on Monday?’ I walked away from the session with more questions than answers but I absolutely know more when I left than I did when I walked in.”

PREVIOUS:

Aaron Sorkin had some burning questions about the lack of diversity in writers’ rooms — an issue that he apparently didn’t know much about until he visited the WGFestival, hosted by the Writers Guild Foundation, on Saturday inside the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood.

“Are you saying that women and minorities have a more difficult time getting their stuff read than white men and you’re also saying that [white men] get to make mediocre movies and can continue on?” he asked the audience.

The weekend-long festival, hosted in partnership with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowships Programs, featured headline panels with screenwriter notables including James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and sneak peek screenings of Starz’s “American Gods” and Fox’s “Shots Fired,” as well as a pitch competition and industry networking opportunities.

Sorkin, Academy-Award winning screenwriter and executive producer (“The West Wing,” “The Newsroom,” “A Few Good Men”) was in disbelief at the event during a discussion moderated by KCRW host and film critic Elvis Mitchell. Sorkin asserted that Hollywood is a genuine meritocracy and that he was unaware of Hollywood’s existing diversity problem.

“You may be confusing meritocracy with meretricious, happens all the time,” Mitchell teased.

Sorkin tried his best to focus on other unrelated questions from audience members, but was itching to learn more about the challenges many female and minorities face in regard to accessibility and opportunities.

“You’re saying that if you are a woman or a person of color, you have to hit it out of the park in order to get another chance?” Sorkin posed.

Upon listing women and minority writers who are actively shifting this paradigm, Sorkin pointed to a handful of those who had produced work in recent years, including Lena Dunham, Ava Duvernay, and Jordan Peele.

Genuinely troubled by his lack of awareness, he continued to ask away and ultimately offered assistance.

“What can I do [to help]?” Sorkin said. “I do want to understand what someone like me can do … but my thing has always been: ‘If you write it, they will come.’ “

More Scene

  • Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

    Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Robin Roberts Honored at 2019 NBA Awards

    The NBA went Hollywood on Monday night, mixing basketball legends with a star-studded list of presenters including Samuel L. Jackson, Tiffany Haddish and “This Is Us” star Justin Hartley at the 2019 NBA Awards. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal hosted the third annual award show, which aired live on TNT, kicking things off with a surprise [...]

  • Naomi Watts and Gretchen Carlson'The Loudest

    ‘The Loudest Voice’ Stars Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe Talk Roger Ailes

    Roger Ailes may have been the force behind the creation of Fox News, but the late newsman’s legacy will forever be his atrocious sexual harassment of several of the network’s female anchors and producers. Showtime premiered its new limited series “The Loudest Voice,” which chronicles Ailes’ rise and fall, on Monday night at the Paris [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

  • Bebe Rexha

    Mumford and Sons, Sting, Ciara, Bebe Rexha Light Up Cannes Lions

    There was no shortage of excellent music at the 2019 edition of Cannes Lion. The international gathering of creatives drew top music brands – among them: Spotify, Live Nation, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM/Pandora, VEVO and Universal Music Group – and a slew of well-known acts to stages across the Croissette, to villas above the city and onto [...]

  • Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson, Mckenna Grace on Scary Stories From 'Annabelle Comes Home' Set

    Tales of spooky occurrences on the sets of horror movies like “The Exorcist” and “Poltergeist” have circulated for years, and it looks like “The Conjuring” franchise is following in their footsteps in that regard. The cast of “Annabelle Comes Home” shared their unnerving stories from set at the film’s premiere on Thursday night at the Regency [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content