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Obama: Oscar controversy 'expression of a broader issue'

By
Marilyn Malara
US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony on January 27, 2016. In a recent interview, Obama gave his views on the controversy surrounding this year's Academy Awards. Pool photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI
US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony on January 27, 2016. In a recent interview, Obama gave his views on the controversy surrounding this year's Academy Awards. Pool photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama weighed in on Hollywood's ongoing Academy Award controversy, saying the debate of its lack of diversity is an "expression of this broader issue."

During an interview with journalist David Ono as part of Live from the White House, Obama added increased inclusion in the entertainment industry would make for better output overall.

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"I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That's a strength. I think that when everyone's story is told then that makes for better art," the President said.

"It makes for better entertainment, it makes everybody feel part of the American family, so I think as a whole the industry should do what every other industry should do which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody," he continued. "And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue: are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?"

Several top Hollywood stars have spoken out against the lack of diversity in this year's list of Oscar nominees. Most recently, actor Matt Damon criticized the academy, calling it "shameful and embarrassing."

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has pledged to diversify the organization since stars like Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith vowed to boycott the awards ceremony this year. "It's a strong first step," Damon said of the move. "This is gonna be a very long road. But I'm glad there's at least a first step."

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