After Stephen King addressed the lack of diversity in the 2020 Oscar nominations, stating that he "would never consider diversity in matters of art," The Outsider star Cynthia Erivo is speaking out. Appearing at the Television Critics Association meeting in Los Angeles Wednesday via satellite for HBO’s presentation of the series, Erivo addressed King's comments as well as the place of diversity in Hollywood.
"I can't solve how you balance diversity with quality of work," Erivo said, according to Entertainment Weekly. "I'd like to think I’m part of the world of diversity. Hopefully, more works get seen by people who are making good work. I feel like this year we had a flurry of beautiful pieces by people who are of diverse nature, black women, women in general, and I think you’re seeing more of it on TV, HBO in general."
Acknowledging Regina King's "incredible" recent work on Watchmen, Erivo, the only person of color nominated for an Oscar in the acting categories, added that "we just have to open the doors and open our eyes to those people who are making the work."
"I am one of the players," she said. "So if there is room for me to play then that's what I'm going to do. If I can create more room for others, then that’s also what I'm going to do."
"But if it's also up to those people who are used to doing things a certain way to shake up their ideas, change the way they think, change the way they cast, change the way they line up their producers and directors and writers and make sure that the room reflects the world we live in, that’s how I think we lean in to diversity a little more," she concluded.
On Tuesday, just after the Oscar nominations were announced, King sparked backlash when he commented on the lack of diversity, as only a single person of color was nominated in the major acting categories and no female directors were up for Best Director.
"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."
Several hours later, King later backpedaled, issuing a second series of tweets.0comments
"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," he wrote. "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."
The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9 at the Dolby Theatre and will be broadcast live on ABC.