David Oyelowo, Don Cheadle, George Clooney Weigh in on Lack of Diversity Among 2016 Oscar Nominees

Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee are boycotting this year's awards.

ByABC News
January 19, 2016, 6:58 PM

— -- Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee are boycotting this year's Oscars because of a lack of diversity among the nominees, and George Clooney said he understands their reasoning.

The actor told Variety that 10 years ago, the Academy did a better job of recognizing people of color.

In 2005, Don Cheadle, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman were all nominated for acting Oscars.

"All of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: 'Creed' could have gotten nominations, 'Concussion' could have gotten Will Smith a nomination, Idris Elba could have been nominated for 'Beasts of No Nation,' and 'Straight Outta Compton” could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with 'Selma' director Ava DuVernay -- I think that it’s just ridiculous not to nominate her," he said. "But honestly, there should be more opportunity than that. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it."

Cheadle weighed in two days before, joking to host Chris Rock: "Yo, Chris. Come check me out at #TheOscars this year. They got me parking cars on G level."

David Oyelowo agreed with Clooney's assessment of this year's group of Oscar nominees. Calling it "a problem that needs to be solved," he reflected on the discussion he had with Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs after he failed to land a nomination for starring in last year's "Selma."

“We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]," he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”

“The reason why the Oscars are so important is because it is the zenith, it is the epitome, it is the height of celebration of artistic endeavor within the filmmaking community," he continued. "We grow up aspiring, dreaming, longing to be accepted into that august establishment because it is the height of excellence. I would like to walk away and say it doesn’t matter, but it does, because that acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live in."

Oyelowo, a member of the Academy, also lamented that the nominations don't reflect the group as a whole. Furthermore, he added, it's not representative of the nation.