President Obama on #OscarsSoWhite Debate: Hollywood Storytelling Should Reflect Makeup of Country

The president said that staying close to reality and telling everyone’s story makes for better art.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama Pool/Getty Images

The leader of the free world weighed in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated news headlines and has a few prominent black celebrities boycotting this year’s Academy Awards.

During an interview with Los Angeles’ ABC7 Wednesday, President Obama agreed that the television and film industries should be more conscious about telling everyone’s story and, more important, finding individuals who can execute those stories authentically.

The key is looking at the country and reflecting its diversity.

“Well, look, I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That’s its strength,” Obama said. “I think that when everybody’s story is told, then that makes for better art, that makes for better entertainment. It makes everybody feel part of one American family.”

Obama said that it’s a problem that plagues not only Hollywood but other industries, too. And a path toward inclusion is the same across the board: Look for people who are underrepresented in the field, and create pipelines that give them access. 

“As a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do, which is to look for talent and provide opportunity to everybody,” Obama said. “I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue of, are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”

Well said, Mr. President.

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.