Steve McQueen on Oscars and Industry Diversity: ‘Let’s Fix This’

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Steve McQueen Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images

The present state of the Academy and the film industry remind Steve McQueen of old MTV — you know, the one the late David Bowie called out for not recognizing non-white artists? The very white 2016 Academy nom-wreck has prompted the Oscar-winning director (the only black helmer to win a best-picture statuette) to share similar questions and comments. “Hopefully, when people look back at [the 2016 Oscars] in 20 years, it’ll be like seeing that David Bowie clip in 1983,” McQueen told The Guardian in an interview published Sunday. “Forgive me; I’m hoping in 12 months or so we can look back and say this was a watershed moment, and thank God we put that right.” McQueen’s comments underline the dire need to recognize more diverse artists (in front of and behind the camera) in today’s cinematic landscape; his words come amid growing awards-season fallout, which has led to calls for an Oscars boycott and significant organizational changes.

Though McQueen is one of the latest pros to weigh in on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, his comments also have bigger-picture resonance: “One could talk about percentages of certain people who are Academy members and the demographics and so forth, but the real issue is movies being made,” he added, pinpointing what he calls the root of the problem: “decisions being made by heads of studios, TV companies and cable companies about what is and is not being made.” If McQueen had a chance to top a movie studio, he said he would “give people more opportunities to make interesting movies,” because this is about “how we want to improve our environment and our society, and who we are. So, let’s get on with it. Let’s fix this.” Read the McQueen interview — which also discusses his current work, as well as his relationship with Kanye — in full here.

S. McQueen on Oscars: ‘Let’s Fix This’