Oscar Diversity: DGA's Paris Barclay Says “Condition Has Long Shamed This Industry”

DGA President Paris Barclay is the latest high-profile Hollywood veteran to weigh in on the brouhaha over the lack of diversity among this year’s Academy Award nominees. He calls the Academy’s decision to broaden its membership a step in the right direction for creating a more diverse awards show but said that to really diversify the industry, “Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of ‘approved lists.’”

Here’s his statement just released by the guild:

“The current Oscar controversy has put a spotlight on a condition that has long shamed this industry: the lack of women and people of color across all aspects of opportunity and employment. The Directors Guild believes that the industry and the community should be responsible for telling all people’s stories and reflecting the diverse lives we lead.

“Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted. The Academy’s decisions – to broaden its leadership and membership, and to limit voting rights for those no longer active in the industry – are important actions and may lead to greater acknowledgement of more diverse films and people who make them. But this alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve.

“Statements, statistics, pleas, and calls for action have done little to move the needle. It is time to be clear – structural changes are needed. Those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the “old boy” network and word-of-mouth hiring. They must commit to industry-wide efforts to find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of “approved lists.”

“A small handful of executives had spoken of their intentions to improve – none have put forward a clear plan of action. Only when those who control the pipeline decide to individually, or jointly, take concrete action will we see significant change.

  1. Glad to hear it. Just one question: What has the DGA done up to this moment in time to meaningfully address this issue?

    It’s a rhetorical question. The DGA, PGA, ACE, VES, ASC and all the other guilds, unions, and organizations with members and awards have done nothing but talk and talk.

    Actions speak for themselves…but when the motivations for those actions come into question…problems will arise.

    And, this ridiculous exercise with AMPAS has probably created even bigger divide between the members.

    And they say Washington is dysfunctional.

    1. I cannot speak to the other professional guilds you mentioned but the DGA has many different ways of addressing diversity, and have for some time now.

      Women, Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, all have their own divisions within the DGA, and there are many programs/open forums to discuss these issues. Diversity (for everyone) has been a top issue for the DGA for years.

      They also frequently have screenings and festivals for films from directors from all over the world. Not just during “awards” season.

      AMPAS could learn a great deal from the DGA I think.

      1. So, let me understand this. The DGA has groups for African Americans, Latinos, Women, etc. In a sense they are segregating the DGA into racial/sex groups to discuss …what? Talk is cheap. Why hasn’t the DGA made a bigger effort to encourage diversity through hiring QUALIFIED filmmakers.?

        The issue is really not awards and membership. The issue is to encourage and cultivate storytellers from all sorts of cultural backgrounds, and use these qualified and diverse people in the process of filmmaking. That is the only issue.

        And yet somehow, Spike Lee (in Jesse Jackson clothing) started the finger pointing. You know, he would have been so much more admired if he turned down the Governor’s Award, but…you know, take the gold and then puke all over it unless, of course, this diversity problem occurred between the Governor’s Award and now.

        Talk about hypocrisy.

        1. 1) The DGA does not hire anyone. Studios do. All they do is raise awareness to issues that the membership deem important.

          2) Talk is cheap? So you are saying these people should not be free to discuss whatever they please? In the halls of their own professional guild? That sounds crazy.

          3) You totally missed my point which is that the membership is diverse enough to even do such things. Yes, you could call it segregated. But I do not think those involved see it that way. People form groups to get certain things done. If they did not, these things would not get done. Wether you like it or not diversity is a problem in the workforce, and it’s not just about race. Awards be damned. Or is it ok when a female star makes less than her male counterpart?

          Personally, I am not invested in any of the Oscar debate and think it is all complete rubbish (I am black, and a 2nd generation filmmaker). The Academy never gave Hitchcock or Kubrick a directing award so they are already on my s–tlist so to speak (that was true heresy). I just cannot fathom why you have to trash everybody? I mean, you’re mad, I get it..

          But.. everybody? Even the nerds at the VES? ;)

        2. Exactly. The same people pushing for diversity are actually segregating people into groups whether by race or gender then pretending to actually do something for them but really doing nothing because they want these groups to be desperate and “needed” otherwise those who run them will be out of a high-paying job. Just like those people who get paid $700,000 a year to run a cancer charity and really really don’t want a cure to be found because, hello, no job left for them.

  2. The Academy should not allow members to nominate if they have not had a screen credit in 5 years. They can still vote but not be able to nominate

    1. Dear Jack Nicholson,

      We’re very sorry, but Stan Heck has taken away your nominating privileges.

      The Academy

  3. There was a well known tactic used by Jesse Jackson in Chicago to “shame” businesses by threatening a “boycott” if they didn’t hire black workers or deposit money in black owned banks. Years later, the same groups “shamed” banks into offering subprime mortgages to people unable to pay them. You see what happens. “The Big Short” one of the nominated films actually shows what happened. Quite apart from the fraud and greed involved, was a social engineering effort that backfired big time.It’s was shakedown in the 1970’s, and businesses concerned about their image, were usually quick to respond. Now, apparently, it’s organizations that are targeted.

    No real artist would have made the comment the AMPAS president made after announcing the organizations nominees. That is why the 51 member Board chose a “publicist” as the spokesman for the group. Can you imagine an actor or director saying such a thing?
    Instead of standing behind the work of thousands who devoted their time to evaluating the work of peers, there was a massive cave-in to the “threat” from a spouse of someone not nominated.

    The 1% constituting the Board conveniently never polls the membership–whether its about changing a 70 year tradition of BP noms, or throwing out members who no longer are actively employed. They manage to take care of themselves, though. They are chosen in a cockamamie way that has no relation to actual voting for someone. Their reaction was typical of a group wanting to “calm” the noise about their choices. Not defend the choices, mind you, but calm the threat of action against them.

    When the government used regulatory power to create artificial value, it did not create prosperity, it created the appearance of prosperity. The same social engineering attempted in an organization allegedly devoted to the esthetics of film will have a similar outcome.

    1. Funny you should mention “the big short” another film with no diversity at all -just white males.

      You can pull all the Jackson stats you want. The proof is in the pudding.

      Over 90 percent of the movies coming out of Hollywood are about white males.

      1. That’s cause we’re as awesome as we are f’d up! You love us and you love to hate us. Something for everyone. How much more money could Hollywood be making? There’s little to no incentive to diversify except for doing what’s right. Nobody cares that much. Que sera sera.

    2. You point about anyone shaming banks to into giving loans to people unable to pay them is so out of whack with what actually happened that I couldn’t go on to read what could have possibly been very informative.

    3. Dear 30 Year AMPAS Member/Actor,

      Your comment is superbly written. Perhaps, you should have been a writer as well as an actor. This is one of the best comments ever regarding this most ludicrous situation. Congrats for your astute and succinct observation. Well Done!

  4. Everybody and their mother has given a statement on the Oscar controversy, but this one was one of the best elucidated.

  5. I have no problem with business being about inclusion instead of just making money. Wall Street is about just making money and it’s borderline criminal. Maybe the movies will get better. Or more creative risks will be taken.

  6. Clearly, the answer to this racist behavior in Hollywood is as simple as the DGA dictating that a certain percentage of members (ADs and UPMs) must be employed in all areas of production on television commercials, television series, television reality and studio and independent features. If a studio, such as Warner Bros, produces and or distributes 10 features in a 12 month period, then 5 of those films must be directed by an African American. Problem solved.

  7. So the older you get, the more racist you are? 60 can’t relate to black themed shows? Show biz has a bigger issue with AGEISM than the races of its nominees. Why pick on old white guys? The reality is, once you get 50, 60, then God Forbid 70, the new hot writer director is always more attractive to studios– so to further slap the 70 year old is it’s cruel and arrogant (older Blacks and women will fall out too).

    30 & 40-somethings are the worst voters: in the primes of their career and having kids, they see the FEWEST movies. 60 has time to watch the films and vote properly. Barclay’s comments are mean spirited, stupid and feed into the very ageism he is about to find at 60. If you want a new rule, fine, but don’t change the contract on people who have given their lives to film.

    Spike said the biggest stars marchedt for Martin Luther King… why not here? Dr. King was defending blacks from being killed in the street, from schools refusing to educate their kids, and bridges refusing them to cross. Everyone should come out for that. But for Oscar nods?

    This year: CHI-RAQ was genius but it got no release, no press, a weird name and unseen by blacks AND whites. BEASTS OF A NATION is Netflix; you’re on your laptop, it feels like a TV show. COMPTON was awesome (better than MAD MAX and BRIDGE OF SPIES)– it probably landed 9th or 10th and got a script nod. CONCUSSION was a mediocre ESPN docu, with a g-rated love story on an old issue.

    There should be a diverse board but why a special race division? Let Eddie Murphy join the actors. John Ridley the Writers and Forest Whitaker the Directors. Why create confrontation? Save Woody Allen or John Williams, the talented old white guy has already stopped getting calls to do films– simply for being around– so don’t stab a guy in the back when he’s already being stabbed in the back. Right Paris?

  8. What a bunch of wining, demeaning and frankly racists demanding what amounts to affirmative action from the Academy.
    As a minority I find it particularly offensive.
    I guess it’s ok to have a Miss BLACK America (implying black women just can’t compete with Asian, Hispanic and White women), BET (because we all know blacks are so different from everyone else that they must have a black network to get their work aired), a congressional BLACK caucus again because blacks need extra help to compete….. Is there a pattern here?
    Anyone (of any race) with an ounce of talent should be insulted by this effort to force the nomination of blacks.
    The nicest thing you can say is that they are hypocrites

    1. History has shown that affirmative action works. A perfect example is Clarence Thomas. A form of affirmative action should be deployed in Hollywood.

      1. In other words what can’t be garnered through merit will be taken through coercion. I don’t need a quota to be successful and resent those who say blacks can only make it with quota’s and forced awards.

  9. Huh–Let’s ask Mr. Barclay how many black men/women he hired outta 97 episodes of Sons of Anarchy where he was executive producer…3 episodes.

    1. Don’t need to ask…check Wikipedia. Barclay was EP for 4 seasons, 53 episodes. 15 directed by people of color (including 13 by himself of course — that’s why they hired him). Two directors were Asian, another African American. 5 episodes were directed by women: 4 by one white woman and 1 by one Asian woman. I dunno. For a show about racist white bikers, that’s a pretty good record of diversity.

    2. And the number of women went down to zero when Barclay became SOA executive producer. Not a single female director in the final season.

  10. Not exactly on topic but I found
    central casting to have an amazing fair way to cast extras or maybe it’s just standard fare. Only a certain amount can be union and the rest must be nonunion which really gives everyone a fair way to access a start in the acting category. Only one in a million walks in to an agency and gets a rep without any acting experience.

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