Viola Davis Speaks Out About The Oscars' Diversity Problem

Viola: "The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system."

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Viola Davis is the latest A-lister to sound off regarding the 2016 Oscars controversy. It was during Entertainment Tonight's 6th Annual Women in Television Dinner that Viola broke down the root of the issue.

"The problem is not with the Oscars, the problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system," she explained. According to Davis, when Academy voters found themselves looking at an all-white list of nominees for the second year in a row, that should have been their cue to ask themselves some important questions and take a deeper look at what's really going on in the entertainment industry.

"How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?" Davis said. "Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?"

"The problem isn't even our pay," she went on. "You could probably line up all the A-list black actresses out there [and] they probably don't make what one A-list white woman makes in one film. That's the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?"

So will Viola be joining the A-list boycott? Not quite. She won't be attending the Awards ceremony this year, but that's because she'll be on vacation. And when asked if she thinks Chris Rock should step down from his hosting gig, she responded that it's his choice.

"Like I said, the Oscars are not really the issue," she said. "It's a symptom of a much greater disease. But if he does [host], I hope he takes it as an opportunity to make a statement, a social statement about change. It's 2016."

In the past, the two-time Oscar nominee has been vocal about the importance of diversity in Hollywood. Last year, she became the first black actress to take home an Emmy for best actress in a leading role on a TV drama, and during her acceptance speech, she touched on many of the issues that have been plaguing the entertainment industry for years.

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," she said. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

The issue with the Oscars seem to be much the same.

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