Ian McKellen has added his voice to the growing chorus of those criticizing Hollywood’s lack of diversity after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its monochromatic list of 2016 nominees.
The out X-Men and Vicious star revealed he empathizes with Hollywood’s stars of color and pointed out that LGBT people in the industry face similar discrimination.
“It’s not only black people who’ve been disregarded by the film industry,” he told the U.K.’s Sky News. “It used to be women. It’s certainly gay people to this day.”
The glaring lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees sparked outrage last year, and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began circulating through social media. This year’s nominations, which did not include a single person of color in the acting categories, continued the trend, with several prominent people of color opting to sit out the 2016 Academy Awards, including Spike Lee, Will Smith, and Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
McKellen said, “These are all legitimate complaints.”
The 76-year-old actor revealed in a 2014 interview with The Advocate that he hoped to have the opportunity to provide a beacon of hope for LGBT youth and entertainers who felt trapped in the closet in another way after he had received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in 1998 for his role as James Whale in the critically acclaimed film Gods and Monsters.
“I had in the pocket of my tuxedo that night, a speech which began, ‘I’m proud to be the first openly gay actor to ever get an Oscar,’” he recalls. “But alas, it wasn’t my turn. Nor has anyone else since been able to say that. So we’re still waiting for the first openly gay actor to pick up their Oscar.”