Stephen King landed in hot water this week after tweeting his reaction to Oscar backlash after the 2020 nominations showed a lack of women in key creative categories — including Best Director. Cynthia Erivo, who stars in HBO's adaptation of King's The Outsider, responded to the writer's remarks at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday while promoting the show.
King tweeted on Tuesday that he was only able to vote in three categories for the Academy Awards — Best Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture — but that he doesn't think about diversity when he's considering art.
...I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 14, 2020
The writer went on to add, "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." But King's first statement had already drawn the ire of Twitter, including criticism from director Ava DuVernay.
Erivo was nominated for Best Actress and Best Song for Harriet, making her one of two actors of color to be nominated across the four major acting categories (Antonio Banderas was nominated for Best Actor).
"I can't solve how you balance diversity with quality of work because, I mean, I'd like to think I'm part of the world of diversity," the actress told journalists on Wednesday. "Hopefully, more works get seen by people who are making really good work. I feel like this year, we had a flurry of beautiful pieces by people who are of diverse nature, black women, women in general. I think you're seeing more of them on TV, HBO particularly. We have Regina King in Watchmen, who's incredible."
Erivo went on to say that executives and producers have a responsibility to provide opportunities for more people of color to showcase their work.
"I think that we just have to open the doors and open our eyes to those people who are making the work. I am one of the players, so if there's room for me to play, then that's what I'm going to do. If I can create room for others, that's also what I'm going to do," she said. "But it is also up to those people who are used to doing things a certain way to shake up their ideas, change the way they think, change the way they cast things, change the way they line up their producers and their directors and writers and make sure that the room reflects the world that we live in."
The Outsider airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
Additional reporting by Lindsay MacDonald.