Helen Mirren Defends Academy in Oscar Diversity Debate

PHOTO: Actress Helen Mirren attends the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium, Jan. 30, 2016, in Los Angeles.Dan MacMedan/Getty Images
Actress Helen Mirren attends the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium, Jan. 30, 2016, in Los Angeles.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren is defending the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Oscars diversity debate.

Asked about the controversy by England's Channel 4 News, the 70-year-old actress said she thinks "its unfair to attack the Academy."

"It just so happened this year it went that way," she said Wednesday about the Academy's failure to nominate any people of color in the top acting categories for a second year in a row.

She did acknowledge that "Idris Elba absolutely would have been nominated for an Oscar," but explained that "he wasn't because not enough people saw -- or wanted to see -- a film about child soldiers."

Elba won the SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor this past weekend for his role in "Beasts of No Nation."

The bigger issue, Mirren added, "is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars."

"What kind of films are made, and the way in which they're cast, and the scripts," she said. "So it's those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands there with an Oscar."

The Academy recently announced that it was planning to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.