Octavia Spencer: Oscars still have work to do on diversity

Octavia Spencer has said that even though she is pleased there are a record number of black nominations at this year’s Oscars, she’s still disappointed by the lack of recognition for other people of colour.

The star is one of six black actors up for an Academy Award this weekend, receiving her nomination for her supporting actress role in Hidden Figures.

She told Associated Press: “Diversity doesn’t mean just black. I’m excited that more black people are being recognised. That’s what I would like to see arrive for other people of colour, because they are so valued and underserved.

Octavia has spoken out about diversity at the Oscars (Matt Sayles/AP)

“I think when we ask the public, the paying public, to support films that don’t portray them on-screen, that’s hypocrisy.”

Harrow-born actor Dev Patel, who is of Asian descent, is nominated for best supporting actor for his performance in Lion.

The diverse slate is a far cry from the past two years, when all-white acting nominees led to the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and a national conversation on race in Hollywood.

Dev Patel is up for best supporting actor (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

It also compelled Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy, to implement a plan restructuring the organisation’s membership to try and make it more reflective of women and minorities.

Octavia, who played Dorothy Vaughn, a pioneering black mathematician at Nasa in Hidden Figures and won best supporting actress in 2012 playing a maid in The Help, now has her own production company.

Octavia won an Oscar for her role in The Help (Ian West/PA)

She said: “We are multifaceted people. Yes, women of colour served in people’s kitchens and cleaned people’s houses. But there are African-American doctors, scientists and lawyers… Those are the types of stories that we also want to see presented in film.”

Octavia added of the projects she would work on as a producer: “If it’s a white story that hasn’t been told, it’ll be told. If it’s a story about a Latin American, Asian-American, (I’ll) tend to tell it.”


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