#OscarsSoWhite is still a thing that exists in 2016, and will continue to be a thing that exists until the Academy (and Hollywood at large) does some serious course correcting in the years to come. 2015 served as a huge year for critically acclaimed blockbusters like Straight Outta Compton and Creed, but when it came down to the coveted awards season, both titles were gravely overlooked. For the latter, many believe Ryan Coogler was snubbed and his efforts towards revitalizing the franchise were underappreciated. Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone enters this year’s Academy Awards ceremony as a nominee for Best Supporting Actor. He faced criticism for not recognizing Coogler or his co-star Michael B. Jordan during his Globes acceptance speech, but don’t think Stallone isn’t taking this diversity issue seriously.
With the conversation surrounding the Oscars and its lack of diversity commanding much of Hollywood’s headlines, Stallone turned to his director for advice. During the Oscar nominees luncheon held on Monday, Stallone recalled a conversation between him and Coogler. “I said, ‘Ryan, how do you want to handle this? Because I really believe that you are responsible for me being here. Michael Jordan, every time I look in his eyes as an actor, he’s making me better. I think he should’ve been given a lot more respect, a lot more attention,’” he said. “He goes, ‘Sly, just go there. Try to represent the film…We feel you deserve it.’”
But that wasn’t enough reassurance for Stallone, who earned his first Oscar nomination as Rocky Balboa in 1977. “I said, ‘If you want me to go, I’ll go. If you don’t, I won’t,’” he continued. “And he goes, ‘No, we want you to go.’ That’s the kind of guy he is. ‘We want you to go and respect us and stand up for the film.’”
I wouldn’t expect anything less from Coogler, who’s wowed audiences continuously thanks to his heartbreaking indie drama Fruitvale Station and now with Creed. While Stallone acted his ass off in Creed, a lot of credit must go to the director for bringing a greater vision to the franchise and introducing a new hero for younger generations to look up to. Stallone represented Creed well yesterday and continued to champion the idea of diversity within Hollywood. “Certainly, there’s the universal law of existence: You either adapt or cease to exist. So I think adaptation and evolving is definitely necessary…I do believe that things will change in just a matter of time. Eventually, all talent will rise to the top, it’s just a matter of getting a new paradigm, a new way of thinking. It’s gonna happen, but I really do owe everything to these two young men, for sure.”
The 88th Academy Awards airs live February 28.
Photo Credit: talentmonthly.com