Spike Lee Proposes A Rule To Increase Diversity In Hollywood

“We’re not in the room! That’s how you fundamentally change stuff.”

January 25, 2016

Spike Lee spoke to New York Magazine about #OscarsSoWhite at the Sundance Film Festival, where the director was waiting to debut his new documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. He called the Motion Picture Academy’s recent announcement of membership rule changes “a first step” towards increasing diversity. “There’s a great song in Hamilton,” Lee told his interviewer. “‘[I Want to Be In] The Room Where It Happens,’ sung by the phenomenal Leslie Odom Jr. We’re not in the room! We’re not in the room! That’s how you fundamentally change stuff, because that’s going to directly impact the films, so therefore it’s going to impact who gets put up for the nominations.”


Lee also proposed an alternate method for increasing the number of minorities in positions of power in Hollywood. “I suggested that they have a Rooney rule,” the director explained. “Dan Rooney was owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was also chairman of the diversity committee of the NFL, so in 2006 the NFL implemented a Rooney rule, where if any team had an opening in the head coach or senior executive positions, they had to interview minority candidates before they hired anyone… This is not a quota. This is an opportunity where qualified people get to interview for a position, and that rule has directly impacted the NFL and the hiring of minority coaches... studios should do the same. Because that does not reflect what this country is.”

In addition, the director suggested that film studios have economic incentives to diversify their output. “I hope it appeals to people’s basic bottom line. Forty-three percent of the movie tickets purchased this year or last year were by minorities. So forget about it being the right thing to do. You’d make more money! You’re gonna make more money if your product is more diverse, and to make your product more diverse, you’ve got to have people in powerful positions to help tell you what stories you should be making.”

Lee said he will be watching the Knicks game at Madison Square Garden rather than attending the Oscar’s. Read the full interview here.

#OscarsSoWhite... Again. I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let's Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can't Act?! WTF!! It's No Coincidence I'm Writing This As We Celebrate The 30th Anniversary Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday. Dr. King Said "There Comes A Time When One Must Take A Position That Is Neither Safe, Nor Politic, Nor Popular But He Must Take It Because Conscience Tells Him It's Right". For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. If Someone Has Addressed This And I Missed It Then I Stand Mistaken. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The "Real" Battle Is. It's In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks. This Is Where The Gate Keepers Decide What Gets Made And What Gets Jettisoned To "Turnaround" Or Scrap Heap. This Is What's Important. The Gate Keepers. Those With "The Green Light" Vote. As The Great Actor Leslie Odom Jr. Sings And Dances In The Game Changing Broadway Musical HAMILTON, "I WANNA BE IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS". People, The Truth Is We Ain't In Those Rooms And Until Minorities Are, The Oscar Nominees Will Remain Lilly White. (Cont'd)

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - His senior photo from Morehouse College (Class of 1948) Good morning, people. With my essay " #OscarsSoWhite ...Again" that I posted yesterday, it was cut off half way through. This is the remainder of it. Please read and Thank You for your love and support for the position my wife, Ms. Tonya Lewis Lee and I have taken for the upcoming 2016 Oscars. ------------------------ As I Said In My Honorary Oscar Acceptance Speech, It's Easier For An African-American To Be President Of The United States Than Be President Of A Hollywood Studio. Also The United States Census Bureau Released A Report Stating White Americans Will Be A Minority In America By The Year 2044. Don't You Think It's A Wise Business Decision To Have Your Product And Workforce Reflect The Diversity Of The Greatest Country On This God's Earth? I Ask, What's The Hold Up? And Please... Don't Go To The Well And Say There Are No Qualified Minority Candidates For These Green Light Gate Keeping Positions. It's Amazing How Far Sports And Music Have Moved Ahead Of Hollywood And Television, But Maybe We Can Learn From Them Too. Your Honor, I Present Exhibit A: The National Football League's Rooney Rule. It's Named After The Late Dan Rooney, Owner Of The Pittsburgh Steelers. Mr. Rooney Was Also Chairman Of The League's Diversity Committee. The Rooney Rule States NFL Teams MUST Interview Minority Candidates For The Positions Of Head Coach And Senior Football Executives Before Hires. Since Being Put In Place Before The 2006 Season, African-American Hires Have Increased. Facebook And Pinterest Have Their Own Version Of The Rooney Rule To Hire Minorities. Why Can't Hollywood Do The Same? It's Worth The Effort Or It Will Be The Same Old Hi-Jinks. I Do Hope In My Children's Lifetime Things Will Change For The Betterment Of All Americans. A Great Diverse America. Spike Lee Filmmaker Da Republic Of Brooklyn, New York MLK Day January 18th, 2016

A photo posted by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

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