Hollywood insiders give views on Oscar diversity issue

The controversy has put pressure on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to promote diversity.

FILE: Social media users brought back the hashtag #WhiteOscars. Picture: AFP.

LOS ANGELES - As soon as the nominations for this year's Oscars were announced last week, they were quickly subject to criticism over the lack of diversity among the contenders.

Social media users brought back the hashtag #WhiteOscars and Hollywood stars such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith voiced their grievances over the issue.

The controversy has put pressure on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said this week more needed to be done to promote diversity.

"The Academy is 'the' establishment, it's the most visible representation of the film business, but it is not the film business," Stephen Galloway from The Hollywood Reporter said.

"You have to go to the root of the problem and the root of the problem is that the studios are simply not green lighting films that are led by minority performers to a sufficient degree that actually reflects this country and its make-up and that has to change."

Galloway added that diversity needs to come at the top, saying: "It's the bastions of power that must change."

Gil Robertson, the President of the African American Film Critics Association, said there was a lack of diversity in the studio system.

"It's a definite problem. You can walk across the campuses of all the studios and never really see anyone of color and it's something that the industry needs to correct," he said.

But perhaps the end is in sight? Galloway pointed to the latest Star Wars film as an example of "heading in the right direction".

"It has a white actress, a black actor and a Hispanic actor - those are the three leads, right?" he said.

"There's something a little mechanical when you set about it like that but at least they're heading in the right direction and other films must follow and will if they want to capture those audiences."