NEW YORK: George Clooney has added his voice to the growing row about all-white
Oscar acting nominations, saying that the Academy - and Hollywood in general - is "moving in the wrong direction" and is more racist than it was a decade ago.
The announcement last week of the Oscars nominations has seen a wave of protest, with all 20 of the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominees being white for the second year running.
Clooney, a six-time Oscar nominee who won as an actor for Syriana and as a producer for Argo, said African Americans, women and
Hispanics were not being treated fairly by Hollywood.
"If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job," he told Variety magazine.
"Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don't think it's a problem of who you're picking as much as how many options are available to minorities in films, particularly in quality films.
"We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it." Clooney, 54, added that women were also having to fight for their right to a fair wage and for the opportunity to star in films beyond the age of 40 - despite the fact that in the 1930s the majority of film leads were women.
For Hispanic actors, he said, the situation was worse. "We should have been paying attention long before this," he said. "I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn't representing them well enough. I think that's absolutely true."
Clooney's assertion that there were more African American nominations in previous decades is not supported by the records, however. At times seven or eight years would pass without a black actor being nominated in one of the categories, with black women particularly struggling for recognition.
Halle Berry, in 2001, was the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, for Monster's Ball. She was only the seventh African American actress to be nominated at all in that category.
Only four black men have ever won Best Actor awards: Sidney Poitier in 1963, plus Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker.
In the past decade, six black actors have been nominated for Best Actor, with Whitaker winning for The Last King of Scotland.
Three black women have been nominated for Best
Actress since 2005:
Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, Viola Davis for The Help and Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild - but none of them have won.
However, three black women - Lupita Nyong'o, Octavia Spencer and Mo'Nique - won Best Supporting Actress in the last decade, for films released in 2013, 2011 and 2009.