Cynthia Erivo Just Responded to Stephen King's Controversial Comments About Diversity

She's starring in an adaptation of King's The Outsider.

Cynthia Erivo Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals
Photo: David Crotty/Getty Images

Cynthia Erivo, the only woman of color nominated in an acting category at this year's Oscars, spoke up about diversity at The Television Critics Press Tour on Thursday. Specifically, she addressed Stephen King's recent controversial comments about the 2020 Oscar nominations. Erivo stars in HBO’s The Outsider, adapted from King's novel of the same name.

In a series of tweets that were widely perceived as tone deaf, King wrote on Monday, "As a writer, I am allowed to nominate in just 3 categories: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Screenplay. For me, the diversity issue — as it applies to individual actors and directors, anyway — did not come up."

"That said ... I would never consider diversity in matters of art," he continued. "Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong."

When asked about King's comment and how we balance diversity with “quality,” Erivo said: “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 British actress continued, “And I feel like this year we had a flurry of beautiful pieces by people who are of diverse nature — black women, women in general — and I think you’ve seen more of it on TV, HBO particularly.” Erivo cited Regina King, star of HBO's The Watchmen, as one such woman doing great work.

“I think that we just have to open the doors and open our eyes to those people who are making the work,” she emphasized. “ I am one of the players. So if there’s room for me to play, then that’s what I’m going to do. And if I can create room for others that’s also what I’m going to do.”

"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 the producers and their directors and writers and make sure that the room reflects the world that we live in,” she asserted. “That’s how I think we lean into diversity a bit more.”

Erivo wasn't the only person to criticize King's comments. Both Ava DuVernay and writer Roxane Gay spoke up as well.

After reading reactions to his tweet, King appeared to have a change of heart, writing, "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…You can't win awards if you're shut out of the game.”

Related Articles