President Obama Finally Weighs In On All-White Oscars Debate

Addressing the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Obama says the Oscars controversy reflects broader American issues with race.

Barack Obama

At this point, commenting on Oscars’ lack of diversity has turned into a full time job for some people. A number of black actors have already announced their intention to boycott one the most anticipated awards ceremonies of the year to record their protest, while others have slammed their counterparts for making a big deal out of it.

The latest to add in to this debate is none other than President Barack Obama, who, for the first time ever, has weighed in on the outcry over two consecutive years of all-white Academy Awards nominees.

“I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That's a strength,” Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC's David Ono. “I think that when everybody's story is told, then that makes for better art, it makes for better entertainment, it makes everybody feel part of one American family.”

Although Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has vowed to address the issue, Obama said the lack of black talent recognition is ultimately just a microcosm of what America is currently dealing with.

“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 stated. “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?”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton also weighed in on the controversy on Wednesday, calling the recent changes to Oscars’ voting membership “long overdue.”

“Just think of the great films that really display not just the diversity of America, but the diversity of the human experience,” said the former secretary of the state. “And therefore the academy has to catch up with our reality.”

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The academy received harsh criticism for lack of black nominations in all the major categories. The announcement of all-white nominees gave birth to the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which some then called racist to whites.

Director Spike Lee, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and others have called for a boycott of the Feb. 28 ceremony, while there also have been calls for Chris Rock to step down as the host.

Watch the video below for the president’s complete interview.