Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Oscar winner Forest Whitaker says Hollywood still has a lot of room for growth in diversity

Jemal Countess | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Hollywood has become more diverse but it still has "a lot of room for growth," Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker told CNBC on Tuesday.

The 2016 Oscars brought the issue of Hollywood diversity into the spotlight once again after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on social media last year. Several high-profile actors, including Will Smith, boycotted the awards show because no black actors were nominated in the eligible categories.

Speaking at a CNBC event at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Whitaker acknowledged progress had been made to address the lack of diversity but said more work is needed.

"The tapestry of film has become more diverse. I think we also have to look behind the camera. It's become more diverse, but there is still a lot of room for growth, room for growth in both areas and all these areas," Whitaker said.

"Then you have to look at the types of stories being told … to look at whether it deals with gender issues, or it's dealing with sexuality issues or class issues, … so much to still be dealt with, to be worked on, to be looked as a whole."

Whitaker won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Uganda dictator Idi Amin in the 2006 movie "The Last King of Scotland."

Many actors have spoken out against the lack of diversity in film and television. Idris Elba, the star of "Luther," said last year that black actors are often cast as"petty criminals."

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