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EXCLUSIVE: Viola Davis Speaks Out on Academy Awards Boycott: 'The Problem Is Not With the Oscars'

by John Boone 11:40 AM PST, January 21, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Viola Davis Speaks Out on Academy Awards Boycott: 'The Problem Is Not With the Oscars'

Viola Davis will not be attending the Oscars.

Though, not necessarily because she is joining the boycott against the show. "'Cause I'm gonna be on vacation," she told ET with a laugh at ELLE's 6th Annual Women in Television Dinner.

The 50-year-old actress did speak out on the fact that the Academy nominated exclusively white actors for the second year in a row. "The problem is not with the Oscars," she explained. "The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system."

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Davis, a two-time Oscar nominee for Doubt in 2009 and The Help in 2012, explained the questions that "the people who are in power who have the yay or nay vote" should be asking to fix the diversity issue.

"How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role?" she told us. "Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?"

"The problem isn't even our pay," Davis added. "You could probably line up all the A-List black actresses out there [and] they probably don't make what one A-List white woman makes in one film. That's the problem. You can change the Academy, but if there are no black films being produced, what is there to vote for?"

As for whether host Chris Rock should drop out of this year's show -- an idea first floated by Tyrese, who asked, "Is Chris Rock still gonna host the Oscars after this blatant racism??" -- Davis says the decision is up to Rock.

"Like I said, the Oscars are not really the issue," she reiterated. "It's a symptom of a much greater disease. But if he does, I hope he takes it as an opportunity to make a statement, a social statement about change. It's 2016."

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Davis knows something about breaking down racial barriers in Hollywood. The How to Get Away With Murder star was the first black actress to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, at the 2015 Emmys.

"In my mind, I see a line," she quoted Harriet Tubman in her emotional acceptance speech. "Over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can't seem to get there no how. I can't seem to get over that line."

"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity," Davis concluded. "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there."

Now, find out what Will Smith had to say about boycotting this year's Oscars:

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