After the list of nominees was announced early Monday morning, Twitter was quickly up in arms over the lack of diversity, with Cynthia Erivo listed as the only person of color in the acting categories.
King, an Academy member, entered the online discussion, explaining how he votes on the nominees.
“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…” King wrote in the first tweet.
“…I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong,” he said in the second.
“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,” he continued in a third tweet.
“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game,” King concluded in a fourth.
Many of King’s fans, including fellow Academy member Ava DuVernay, slammed the 72-year-old author for his second tweet, in which he said he didn’t consider diversity when making his picks.
“When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed,” DuVernay tweeted in response.
When you wake up, meditate, stretch, reach for your phone to check on the world and see a tweet from someone you admire that is so backward and ignorant you want to go back to bed. https://t.co/nPXOeAebkb— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 14, 2020
Author Roxane Gay also responded to his tweet, expressing her disappointment.
“As a fan, this is painful to read from you. It implies that diversity and quality cannot be synonymous. They are not separate things. Quality is everywhere but most industries only believe in quality from one demographic. And now, here you are,” she replied.
Another author, N. K. Jemisin, also objected to his opinion.
“Damn, Stephen. Damn. I thought you were better than this. It should be obvious that diversity and quality *aren’t separate qualities,* or in opposition to each other — except in the minds of bigots. Damn,” Jemisin wrote.
After garnering several nominations, including at Golden Globe and SAG Awards nods, Jennifer Lopez was shockingly left out of the Best Supporting Actress category for Hustlers. She would’ve been only the eighth Latin-American ever nominated in the category, with Rita Moreno in 1961 and Lupita Nyong’o in 2013 picking up the only wins.
Nyong’o, a Kenyan-Mexican actress born in Mexico, also missed out on a nomination for Best Actress for Us.
Erivo was the only black actor to pick up an acting nomination for Harriet. Other snubbed potential nominees included Eddie Murphy for Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name and Jamie Foxx for Just Mercy.
#OscarsSoWhite first began trending in 2015 after the Academy came under fire for failing to nominate any actors of color for the second year in a row. Well-known Hollywood black stars like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith skipped the 88th annual awards in response.
The Academy has since made strides to diversify its voting body, inviting a record 683 new members the following year.
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards will air live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.