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Boycotting Oscars over diversity is 'racist to whites' says British actress

Last Updated Jan 22, 2016 at 4:56 pm EDT

In this Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 file photo, Charlotte Rampling holds the Silver Bear for Best Actress. (AP Photo/Axel Schmidt, file)

A British actress has turned the tables on the Oscars diversity debate, telling a French radio station that a boycott of the awards ceremony is “racist to white people.”

Charlotte Rampling made the remarks during an interview with radio network Europe 1.

The 69-year-old, who is an Oscar nominee for her work in the drama 45 Years, didn’t see a problem with the fact that no black actor has been nominated over the past two years.

“One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” she said.

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are among the Hollywood heavyweights who have announced they’ll be sitting out this year’s ceremony to protest what Lee called the “lily white” Oscars.

“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” Pinkett Smith said. “And we are a dignified people and we are powerful.”

Pinkett Smith’s husband, Will Smith, wasn’t nominated for his performance in Concussion. “This is about children that are going to sit down and they’re going to watch this show and they’re not going to see themselves represented,” Smith told Good Morning America.

In a statement released on Monday, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs vowed to address the diversity issue.

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” she said. “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”

Some have questioned whether that should include quotas.

Rampling doesn’t think so.

“Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted,” she said.

Update: On Friday afternoon, the film academy pledged to double the number of female and minority members by 2020, and will immediately diversify its leadership by adding three new seats to its board of governors.

With files from The Associated Press