Issa Rae Explains Her Viral Oscar Nominations Moment

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Issa Rae
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"Congratulations to those men."

Issa Rae turned heads on Oscar nominations morning on Monday when she said four simple words in response to female directors getting shut out for Best Director, in favor of their male counterparts, for the 92nd Academy Awards.

The category features five male directors, four of whom are white: Parasite's Bong Joon-ho, 1917's Sam MendesJoker's Todd PhillipsThe Irishman's Martin Scorsese and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood's Quentin Tarantino. Only five female directors have been nominated in the history of the Oscars, with Kathryn Bigelow the lone winner in 2009 for The Hurt Locker

On Wednesday, Rae addressed her viral Oscar moment while promoting the fourth season of Insecure, explaining that she and John Cho, who was also tapped to announce the nominations, were told to improvise for a bit. It just so happened that Rae's ad-lib was particularly devastating and truthful. 

"John Cho and I were told to banter for five seconds as the teleprompter loaded, so that was my banter," Rae told reporters during the winter Television Critics Association press tour. "I didn't lie."

The 35-year-old multihyphenate further elaborated on the lack of recognition for directors like Lulu Wang for The Farewell, who alluded to having "much to say about a lot of things" late Monday, and Greta Gerwig for Little Women.

"I just think it's unfortunate. The Academy needs to do better. I'm tired of having the same conversations. Every year, it's something," Rae said. "For me, it's just pointing it out when I see it. I just don't want to get too worked up about it. It is what it is at this point. It's just a conversation that's happening behind the scenes. So, I don't want to say too much more about it. It's annoying."

Watch Rae's moment below.

When ET spoke with Gerwig at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, she was taking a "glass half full approach" to female accomplishments in cinema in recent years, despite the continued dearth of nominations for female helmers.

"What I am heartened by is how many beautiful films were directed by women and what impact it's making on the industry," she said. "They just came out with another Annenberg study that said there are more films this year directed by women than any other year, and it's looking to improve again for 2020 and 2021."

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards air live coast-to-coast on Sunday, Feb. 9 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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