Author Stephen King recently took to Twitter to share his thoughts on diversity in the Academy that nominates and chooses awards for the Oscars.
“As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay,” he wrote. “For me, the diversity issue–as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway–did not come up. That said……I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”
Fans and other big names in the entertainment industry didn’t take kindly to his comments and decided to respond with thoughts of their own.
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who admires King, shared her disappointment in his views, writing, “When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed.”
Writer Roxane Gay also responded via Twitter, writing, “As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere, but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are.”
Author Frederick Johnson took this moment to praise diversity in art, responding that, “The interesting thing is that diversity generally leads to more interesting, relatable, and higher quality art.”
“What If I told you…you could do both,” writer Ashley C. Ford said, also in response to King.
Cynthia Erivo, known for her role as Harriet Tubman in the 2019 film ‘Harriet,’ and the only person of color nominee amongst the 20 acting nominees for the 91st Academy Awards was asked at the Television Critics Association meeting her thoughts on King’s comments, to which she responded, “I feel like this year we had a flurry of beautiful pieces by people who are of a diverse nature – black women, women in general.”
“But it is also up to those people who are used to doing things a certain way to shake up their ideas,” Erivo continued. “Change the way they think, change the way they cast things, change the way they (hire) their producers, their directors and writers and make sure it reflects the world that we live in.”
Just a few short hours after his tweet gained traction and went viral, King backtracked on his comments writing, “The most important thing we can do as artists and creative people is make sure everyone has the same fair shot, regardless of sex, color, or orientation. Right now, such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.”
“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game,” King continued.