Diversity in the arts and equal opportunities for employment are extremely important to me. I was asked to comment on the "Oscars So White" controversy that sparked again when there was an obvious lack of racial diversity in some top categories of the Oscar nominations. You can read the interview online. Ed Sikov is a noted and published film historian. Ed is also a solid journalist who remembers when I was a veejay and prime time talk show host on VH1. I'm very proud that the New York Times, People magazine and TV Guide wrote excellent things about my talk show host work. Oscar and Tony winner Liza Minnelli was a guest.
I was usually told that they wouldn't know what to do with me. But I feel the real rejection was race for reasons I mention in Ed Sikov's article. To get work like Tom Bergeron has on Dancing With The Stars or like Mo Rocca has on CBS Sunday Morning was difficult. I didn't have representation to get me into those auditions or get me meetings with producers of those shows. I'm still not signed with agent and I still pursue my own jobs.
If it was that way for me, imagine the frustration that actors of color have after they been in a big box office hit movies or got an Oscar nomination and then don't get any more Hollywood offers. Imagine when filmmakers of color can't get a green light for their project or, if they do, can't get their project marketed and promoted. In 2008, a veteran agent with the NYC branch of Abrams Artists Agency contacted me to come in the following week for a meeting. I was doing Whoopi's early morning radio show and the Food Network show I hosted aired in repeats Monday through Friday in the late morning. The agent, bless her heart, opened our afternoon meeting by asking if I'd ever done any on-camera TV host work. She'd never looked at my headshot/resumé or demo reel. She knew nothing about my career.
Who knows more about my career than she did? This woman. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy.