After Stephen King took to Twitter to share his thoughts on how he “would never consider diversity in matters of art” in regards to the lack of diversity in 2020 Oscar nominations, Cynthia Erivo has responded with how the industry can do better.
Speaking at the 2020 Television Critics Assn. press tour on Wednesday, Erivo, who is starring in HBO’s adaptation of King’s The Outsider, was asked for her take on King’s tweets the day before which received immediate backlash.
“I can’t solve how you balance diversity with quality of work,” Erivo told the room of reporters via satellite from Tokyo. “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.”
The Oscar-nominated star of Harriet went on to acknowledge Regina King’s “incredible” recent work on Watchmen, another HBO miniseries.
“I think now we just have to open the doors and open our eyes to those people who are making the work,” Erivo says. “I am one of the players. 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.”
However, Erivo stresses that it’s up to those who have the power and platform to make real change. “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 adds.
On Tuesday, King sent a series of tweets about his take on diversity in Hollywood.
As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue--as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway--did not come up. That said...— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
After receiving backlash from notable figures such as Ava DuVernay and Roxane Gay among many others, a few hours later King seemed to backtrack on his comments in a series of new tweets.
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. Right now such people are badly under-represented, and not only in the arts.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
The Outsider is executive produced and written by Richard Price (The Wire, The Night Of) and premieres with the first two hourlong installments on HBO back-to-back on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.