Cuba Gooding Jr. Says Hollywood's Diversity Issue Didn't Start With Oscars

He also said he's unsure whether the Oscars boycott is the best way to tackle the problem.

The issue of diversity in Hollywood is bigger than the Academy Awards alone, Cuba Gooding Jr. told HuffPost Live on Monday.

Gooding, who took home an Oscar in 1997 for his role in "Jerry Maguire," suggested that the lack of diversity among this year's Academy Award nominees is reflective of a more systematic issue that is plaguing Hollywood. Just as Viola Davis previously noted, he said the genesis of the problem begins much earlier in the film production process.

"Awards are the end of the chain," Gooding said. "Diversity has to begin when you decide what story you greenlight as a studio executive, and I think that's where it has to start. And then from there we can grow the conversation and start the dialogue, because until that changes, we're not going to have the rainbow representation that we have in television."

The actor added that FX's "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," in which Gooding stars as "the Juice" himself, exemplifies the type of racial inclusion he hopes to one day see in film.

"That's more representative of the stories that Americans have to tell," he told host Alex Miranda.

As for the Oscars boycott, which has been spearheaded by some of Hollywood's elite, Gooding isn't 100 percent behind it. He said that "the best of the crop" was acknowledged this year, and the process to diversify those nominees must start from the inception of each film.

"If you look at the Academy Awards, we have a black host and we have a black president of the Academy -- to boycott or to step away from it, I don't know if that's the smartest decision to make," he said. "I think we have to again just look at the process for change."

That change may finally be on the horizon. Since last year's #OscarsSoWhite hashtag bubbled up again this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a diversity initiative that will add new governor seats and restructure the requirements for lifetime voting rights.

Watch Cuba Gooding Jr.'s full conversation with HuffPost Live here

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