One thing that's sure to be on everybody's minds as the 2016 Oscars air live on Sunday, February 28 is the #OscarsSoWhite movement challenging the lack of racial diversity among this year's nominees. Many within the entertainment industry have shared their thoughts on the matter since the 2016 Oscar nominees were announced last month, and now Phaedra Parks is voicing her opinion in an interview with Forbes published Friday.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta entertainment lawyer is not surprised that the demographics of this year's Oscar nominees turned out the way they did. "Well, I think we have to be honest with ourselves. We still live in America, and while people want to forget our history, we have a very troubling past of racial bias and discrimination," Phaedra said. "It doesn’t strike me as strange that there aren’t more African Americans and Latinos being nominated for Oscars, because that is the nature of what America does, that is our history."
Phaedra said there's still work to be done in ensuring that people are really equal, especially when it comes to the opportunities afforded to them, whether it's in front of the camera or behind it. "People of color aren’t receiving the opportunities to direct and to produce things that represent their culture, or even represent anyone’s cultures," she said.
But even when minority actors do get leading roles, Phaedra feels that they often receive recognition for parts that aren't the most progressive for their culture. "It’s very interesting to me, as a woman and a person of color, that the only times that people of color seem to win Oscars is when they’re playing very stereotypical roles, rather than roles that empower their culture. Denzel Washington won Best Actor for Training Day when he was playing a thug, instead of all the other movies where he’s played a very strong character," she said.
Still, Phaedra is glad that we're having these kinds of conversations about race and representation today. She is also doing her own part as an activist with her Save Our Sons mentorship program and helping out with the Flint water crisis. "As an activist, the things that I’ve been outspoken about have always been things that interested me prior to being an attorney and prior to being on a TV show. Being an attorney and being on a television show gives me the notoriety so I can be more impactful when choosing what I want to push and be active about socially," Phaedra told Forbes. "Being a cast mate on The Real Housewives of Atlanta gives me the chance to be more impactful as an activist, because I now can use my platform to inform millions of people with the click of a keypad or simple tweet."
Phaedra may become even more active in politics in the future. Earlier this month, she revealed her plans to run for political office one day. It sounds like the RHOA attorney is already building up a strong platform.
See Phaedra's activism in action as she and her RHOA castmates commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March earlier this season, below.