Cuba Gooding Jr. Defends the Academy at 'The People v. O.J. Simpson' Premiere

The actor talks race in television versus film at the FX true crime anthology's world premiere.
Todd Williamson
David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, Cuba Gooding Jr.

The #OscarsSoWhite controversy made its presence felt at the world premiere of FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story at the Westwood Village Theater in Los Angeles Wednesday night.

"I refer to what Alejandro Inarritu said, the awards shows are the end of the chain," star Cuba Gooding Jr. told The Hollywood Reporter. "It has to start higher up. It has to start in the casting process. You look at television right now, television is killing it, a rainbow coalition in so many different shows." 

While the actor reunited with fellow cast members John Travolta, David Schwimmer, Courtney B. Vance, Sarah Paulson, Connie Britton and Selma Blair, he continued to defend the Academy, saying, "I was an Academy member since 1993 and I won an Oscar in 1997, so from those four years I cherish my membership. Our president made a decision and I leave our decisions up to our board of trustees to make those decisions. I have to stand by them." 

Added Malcolm-Jamal Warner, "The pleasant surprise is that the Academy has been quick about taking steps to try to fix it." While Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith will not be attending the Oscars Angel Parker tells THR, "I want a front row seat, all those people who are boycotting tell them to give me their ticket."

Ryan Murphy's new anthology's premise revolves around the famous O.J. Simpson trial, but the cast points out the series is about much more than that one event. "It's really important when we watch this to think about where we are today and ask the big question, have things changed in 20 years?" Schwimmer told THR. "In light of everything that's going on in this country in the last two years in particular, it's unfortunately clear that the experience for black America is very different from the experience of white America in this country." 

Tye White, who plays Jason Simpson in the series, told The Hollywood Reporter, "You can't talk about the trial without touching on the L.A. riots and the police brutality because it won't give the full context of how the nation felt at that time." Adds Gooding Jr, "It's a timely issue that we as artists hope to reflect the ills of society through our work so that you can dissect and try to find solutions for certain issues." 

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story' premieres Tuesday February 2 at 10:00 p.m. on FX.