KABC Exclusive: President Obama discusses Oscar diversity

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Thursday, January 28, 2016
President Barack Obama discusses Oscar diversity in exclusive interview with ABC7's David Ono
President Barack Obama talks about inclusion and diversity at the Oscars in an exclusive interview with ABC7's David Ono on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama weighed in on the Oscar nominations controversy for the first time in an exclusive one-on-one interview with ABC7's David Ono.

The President invited Ono to meet in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House on Wednesday. It's the same room the two convened in four years ago to discuss the debt ceiling, gay marriage and the economy.

Wednesday's conversation turned to diversity in the film industry after the second straight year of all-white acting nominations for the Oscars by the Academy.

The Commander in Chief has often spoken about pushing the country towards a better understanding of its differences with a theme of tolerance and inclusion.

It's the same theme Hollywood is grappling with in regards to the Oscars.

"I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country. That's a strength," Obama said. "I think that when everybody's story is told, then that makes for better art, it makes for better entertainment, it makes everybody feel part of one American family."

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Ono also met with Obama's senior advisor, Valerie Jarett, who helped to give perspective on the President's viewpoint.

"The President from day one has really fought to insure that everybody has an equal opportunity to compete and achieve their dreams," she said. "So thinking about how we approach diversity and inclusion in our country is something everyone should do."

While the lack of inclusion at the Oscars is the Academy's issue to figure out, Obama said ultimately the Oscars are just a microcosm of what America is dealing with.

"As a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do, which is to look for talent, and provide opportunity to everybody," Obama stated. "I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue of are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?"