“I think it is a step in the right direction, a needed step,” said Miles Ahead director and star Don Cheadle tonight about the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ new move to increase diversity in the Oscar-awarding organization. “But people really have to have access to tell the stories they want to tell,” the Oscar and Emmy nominee added after a triumphant Sundance Film Festival screening of his film about Miles Davis. “So what we really need is people in positions to greenlight those stories, not a hunk of metal.”
The House of Lies actor’s remarks come on the same day that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that its Board of Governors had voted on Thursday night for “substantive changes” to increase diversity on a multitude of levels.
With a total absence of people of color among the top acting Oscar nominations last week, Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee and others have said they will not be attending this year’s Academy Awards. Timingwise, AMPAS’ response of sorts came the same day that Concussion actor Will Smith confirmed that like his wife he wouldn’t be going to the February 28 ceremony.
In what he told me was “a joke that just blew up,” Cheadle himself took a much re-tweeted jab online at the #OscarsSoWhite situation a few days back:
— Don Cheadle (@IamDonCheadle) January 17, 2016
The creatively unconventional film based on the life of jazz giant Miles Davis is Cheadle’s directorial debut. “Not to grind so hard, to trust more that we’re telling the story and we can afford to breathe more,” Cheadle told a packed MARC Theatre on Friday night when asked what he would have done different with the film in hindsight. Also starring Ewan McGregor, Keith Stanfield and Emayatzy Corinealdi, Miles Ahead made its world premiere at New York Film Festival on October 11 last year. The film is set to be released by Sony Pictures Classics this spring.