Stephen King embroils himself in 2020 Oscars diversity row

Ben Arnold
PEN literary service award recipient Stephen King attends the 2018 PEN Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History on Tuesday, May 22, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Stephen King (Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Stephen King has found himself embroiled in a row over diversity, after comments he made on Twitter about his Oscar voting.

The writer explained that 'only quality' should matter when deciding personal nominations for the annual movie awards.

But this year in particular, the Oscars has come in for some serious scrutiny after only one non-white actor was nominated in the four acting categories – Cynthia Erivo for her role in the biopic movie Harriet, about the abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

Read more: All the British Oscar nominees

King said: :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…

“I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.”

Selma director Ava DuVernay was among those criticising King's remarks.

Ava DuVernay arrives at the 25th annual Critics' Choice Awards on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Ava DuVernay (Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“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,” he wrote in response.

King later added: “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.

“You can’t win awards if you’re shut out of the game.”

Anger has erupted after the likes of Lupita Nyong'o, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Lopez were snubbed in the acting categories for this year’s Academy Awards, echoing 2016’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy, another year in which diversity escaped the most important event in the movie world calendar.

There were also no women nominated this year in the directing category, despite rave reviews for Greta Gerwig's Little Women.