David Oyelowo On Diversity Within The Academy: ‘It Better Happen Quickly’

David Oyelowo was snubbed for his performance as Martin Luther King in Selma at the 2015 Academy Awards. In and of itself, that is not a huge deal. Actors and actresses get snubbed every year. However, the fact that the Oscars have had only white nominees in the four major categories two years in a row is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

BBC News reports that David Oyelowo has joined the ranks of those who are dissatisfied with the lack of diversity both in the movie industry and at the Oscars. In fact, Oyelowo pointed out that two of the top box-office movies currently in theaters are led by black actors and the top TV show is also led by black actors and actresses.

“We have a situation whereby currently the biggest movie in the world and of all time (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is led by a black man. That film was knocked off the top spot this weekend by a film led by two black men, Ride Along 2. The biggest TV show on the planet is led by black people, Empire.”

The Guardian reports that David Oyelowo has spoken out about how the Academy doesn’t reflect him or the nation. He made the comparison of black people fighting for representation at the Oscars to the fight for voting rights.

“When Dr King said we need the Voting Rights Act to be passed, LBJ said it’s too soon, it can’t be done. People were losing their lives. People weren’t allowed to vote. Dr King said [we cannot] wait. What was done was done not in years but months. The Academy is an institution in which they all say radical and timely change cannot happen quickly. It better happen quickly. The law of this country can change in a matter of months. The Oscars is on February 28. Cheryl needs us to pray that by that date, change is going to come.”

David Oyelowo was referring Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy and a black woman. The Guardian reported on Monday that Boone Isaacs expressed her feelings about the white over-representation at the Oscars.

“While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”

In December of 2014, David Oyelowo spoke with Charlie Rose about what it is like to be a black actor in Hollywood.

What he said is quite eye-opening, in particular that he would have to work four times as hard to be on equal footing with his white counterparts.

At least David Oyelowo is being recognized for his achievements in his home country of England. USA Today reports that Oyelowo and Idris Elba have both been honored by Queen Elizabeth and will be receiving the Order of the British Empire in recognition of their service to drama.

Oyelowo is delighted with this recognition.

“To be honored by the queen in this way, having been aided by her son’s charity, feels like a beautiful full-circle moment.”

With recognition in England under his acting belt, it is hoped that soon there will be more equal representation of black actors and actresses in Hollywood and at the Academy Awards. When there is, it is certain that David Oyelowo will make a strong impact.

[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]