During a sit down interview with Variety, hip-hop mogul and Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons called out Hollywood for being segregated and holding back African-American creatives. He is now speaking up about the racial split in the movie and entertainment industry.
“The reality is the lack of integration is deafening,” said Simmons. “The segregation in Hollywood is incredible.”
Simmons is currently working on 11 different movie projects and switched agencies from CAA to WME. The long-time hip-hop ambassador isn’t just blaming Whites for the split. “I kind of blame Black people for not forcing their way in doors,” he said in the interview. “You have to take the initiative and push your way in the door too…Everybody has to take responsibility for the new incarnation of Hollywood.”
After working with different agencies and production companies over the years, Simmons noted that the entire landscape of Hollywood is . “I didn’t realize they’re all the same,” Simmons said of the agencies. “[They all have] the one Black agent.” While he was critical, he did comment that he is happy to be working at WME.
In light of the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York, Simmons has been on the forefront of protests and in government offices calling for a change to the current system. Simmons believes that Hollywood shouldn’t shy away from these issues. “Hollywood should lead the way in healing,” he said. “Hollywood should not be afraid of the subject matter Norman Lear dealt with 35 years ago.”
The full interview can be seen above and Simmons’s statements begin at the 26:20 mark.