Kevin Hart: ‘People will look for any excuse to play the race card in Hollywood’

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Here are some photos of Kevin Hart at Saturday night’s premiere of The Secret Life of Pets. I love his pinkish/mauve-y ensemble. In the film, Kevin voices the character of Snowball, a tiny little white bunny, and he’s been having fun with the idea of a black guy playing a “white” character in interviews. Kevin also got serious for a moment during the press conference for the film when he was asked about #OscarsSoWhite, an issue that blew up earlier this year when, for the second year in a row, there were no actors of colors nominated for an Oscar. Hart’s comments were… well, not problematic, per se. But I have problems.

Winning Oscars and promoting big blockbuster movies shouldn’t have anything to do with the color of your skin, according to Kevin Hart. At a press conference for the movie The Secret Life of Pets on Thursday, Hart told reporters “people will look for any excuse to play the race card in Hollywood.”

“I think in this day and age – look – it is what it is,” Hart says. “You want it to be more diversified, you want to see more diversity, but a lot of people make attention and draw attention by talking about it whereas if you just work and progress, you eventually put yourself in a position to help the problem by bringing more people into the business.”

The award-winning comedian also addressed the issue at this year’s Oscars and during the ceremony congratulated actors of color who weren’t nominated for all their “hard work and effort.” He echoed his Oscar speech on Thursday, stating negative attention will only bring a negative response to the problem.

“I bust my ass and do what I’m supposed to and I’ve been promoting movies internationally now for the past four years,” Hart says. “They say movies don’t transfer with black actors internationally. I don’t feed into that. I do what I do. If other people did the same thing, you will look up and see more multicultural films being perceived by so many more people.”

[From People]

I think what he’s saying is that the best way to fight systemic racism in Hollywood is to keep your head down, work your ass off and just let your work speak for itself. While I can understand his perspective – he is arguably one of the hardest-working actor-comedians in Hollywood – I also think his perspective is extremely narrow. Actors of color, from Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans, African-Americans, Latin-Americans and beyond, have trouble just getting their foot in the door. They have issues even getting to a place where they can work hard and let their work speak for itself because THEY CAN’T GET WORK.

Beyond that, I do think the #OscarsSoWhite conversations help. Hart seems to be saying that talking about racism will never solve racism, and maybe he’s right in a narrow context, but I still think it’s good to talk about race in Hollywood and beyond. It raises awareness, it helps the industry identify their own self-inflicted problems, and there’s anecdotal evidence that simply talking about these issues actually does change perspectives of casting directors, executives and directors. Plus, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs actually implemented some much-needed changes within the Academy, so yes, talking about it did effect change.

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Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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44 Responses to “Kevin Hart: ‘People will look for any excuse to play the race card in Hollywood’”

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  1. mytake says:

    Comments like his derail progress. Because now there are probably people — some of whom may have been on the cusp of accepting that they still have a lot to learn about racism — who won’t take a moment to consider that they may be part of the problem instead of the solution. They’ll be all, “Well, Kevin Hart said X; so if he said it — and he’s black — than I must be right!” Thanks, Kevin Hart.

    And how much do you want to bet that he works so much because he is willing to take less money…..

    • EM says:

      I don’t think his opinion or attitude derail progress at all. He has a roll up your sleeves kind of attitude towards solving the issue which I can appreciate.

    • LondonFields says:

      I’m okay, so everyone else should shut up. To each their own, but I’m calling asshat on this one.

    • Lindsay says:

      That is not how most people behave.

      Self-reflection, examining and questioning your beliefs, rooting out learned behavior, committing to learning about people you have been successfully “other-ing” your entire life, truly trying to feel empathy for others who are very different than you, and trying to make meaningful changes in your thoughts and behavior is extremely difficult. Even making that commitment to learn more and try to understand the feelings of other people unlike you can easily seem overwhelming and frustrating because there is so much information out there, it is hard to know wear to start. It also can stir up unpleasant emotions. Think about all the people on the Internet can go crazy and get hypersensitive when the idea of white or male privilege is brought up. Some people want their sugar coated history and want to believe even as a minority they would be able to get where they are and have what they have because they are smart, work hard, are nice, or whatever else. Also some of these ideas and attitudes come from our family and we don’t want to think badly of our parents. There is so much to unpack and for a lot of people it is an emotional subject and passions and tempers flare a bit easier. Committed people would read this and realize he is speaking for himself. They would take in what he has to say, how other people respond, and understand his circumstances are unique to him.

      People who read a few sentences from him and think “Well, Kevin Hart said X; so if he said it — and he’s black — than I must be right!” were looking for a reason, ANY reason to not do all that soul searching and learning. The right vague message in a fortune cookie would work. They had no desire to endure the growing pains and putting real effort into real change.

      A depressing number of people pick door number two. Apathy, complacency, and even simple laziness all hold broad appeal. The pro-dumb sentiments spread by the GOP especially, doesn’t help.

  2. Alexandra says:

    This is pretty much what Michael Caine said, when asked about #OscarsSoWhite – Black people just need to work more! Except, they already do and get doors shut in their faces. And coming from a PoC, this feels like a step back.

  3. Nicole says:

    Yea no sir. I can be the hardest working person in the room and if I’m passed over for a promotion or can’t get a project lead because it always goes to the white male what does that say really? If the door isn’t open to begin with what does THAT say?
    Hollywood already white washes ethnic characters. They believe that “black movies” don’t sell. They pat themselves on the back for liking Straight Outta Compton. That’s not progress that’s pandering. We deserve to have our history told…not just the painful parts but the joyous ones too. What can we be the leading man? The love interest? The smart quirky rom com lead? We can.

    And don’t even get me started on Asian American actors. They have it even worse

  4. Jay says:

    Definitely narrow minded. I understand it in the context of his own life, but for most POC it’s still a struggle to even get the work in the first place. The problem isn’t lack of quality, it’s lack of quantity.

    • Yourmom says:

      Black people are about 15% of the american population. Theyre already pretty well represented in hollywood. I think his point is to do the work and dont wait for special treatment. It obviously worked for him. Stpp infantilizing black people like theyre helples babies. That is racism my friend.

      • mytake says:

        No, racism is accusing black people of wanting special treatment when they call out cultural inequities — and yes, that includes calling out other black people who engage in a bit of Uncle Tom-ing….

      • Bridget says:

        Do you even know what racism is?

  5. FF says:

    I knew I couldn’t take his opinion seriously when I read some of his comments about dark-skinned black women.

    He works hard and that’s part of it but he’s getting a caertain level of success because he’s a small black guy who plays to comic relief. He’s not threatening white guy leads by existing and turning up. You can put the two together, in fact, to signal boost.

    I don’t know how cognizant he is of that but that – people aren’t afraid to cast him) and the popularity he’s built on is part of his success.

    I mean, you can tell by Hollywood’s general output and what predominates (even when it often fails) what the problem is. It’s weird to suggest it’s only a ptoblem because people complain about it.

    But, hey, he’s got to tell himself something.

    • HH says:

      Exactly. Kevin Hart plays the funny black guy/sidekick in most, if not all his films. That’s not threatening. In fact, that seems to be what white studio execs want: The stereotypical, funny, loud, black sidekick. So no, Kevin won’t have a problem until he wants to branch out. His opinion shouldn’t be asked about people who do serious acting and are true actors. I go to Kevin’s movies and I laugh, but I never think Oscar.

      Also, I need to look up his comments on dark skinned black women. I haven’t seen/heard about them before.

      • lisa2 says:

        I wonder if his opinion would change if he wanted to play outside of the safe box he has put himself in. I doubt he will be taken seriously in more serious roles. He is the comic relief. And things for him like many people of color will be very different if he say wanted to do something like The Revernant.. The doors would close.. and it doesn’t matter how much money he made in comedic roles.

      • Suzanne says:

        He plays the lead in most of his movies

      • Saraya says:

        “His opinion shouldn’t be asked about people who do serious acting and are true actors.”

        Wow, that is some serious elitist snobbery. Gross.

  6. Nebby says:

    It frustrates me so much when people go on and on about how hard they work, Kevin talks about how hard working he is all the time like he deserves a pat on the back for it (the rest of the world is working hard and long shifts too and often for little pay). Now his comments are just so ughhhh. I’m sure those other minorities that can’t even get into the room are hard working too but there’s no opportunity to showcase that. Also I see nothing wrong with addressing a problem. Speak up and put action behind your words.

    • als says:

      It bugs me too. Kendall Jenner explained how hard she works, this guy says the same thing, Kim K as well, I swear it seems that we are all sitting on our asses and that is why the world is going to hell.
      Work without opportunities helps you live day by day (sometimes not that), it won’t make you Kevin Hart.

      It seems that Mr. Hart wanted to excuse himself from getting involved in this issue. He should have just said so.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I can’t speak fo black people, but I can speak to what I’ve seen in life. I was born in 1956, and for my whole life I have seen black people bust their ass. He’s no exception. Progress has been made, yes. But why are we satisfied with that? It should be equal. We should stop saying “if black people would just do this or that, they would eventually have the same opportunities as white people.” How long are they supposed to wait? And why? I feel the same way about women, and I’m sure it holds true for other people of color as well. Let’s just be fair. Now.

    • Marty says:

      Yeah, he gave a very watered-down answer to a much larger issue. If it was as simple as he says, we still wouldn’t see the problems we have today in the industry.

  8. jaimeboo says:

    He’s getting work consistently, of course he’s not going to rock the boat.

  9. Capepopsie says:

    Very shallow level, I know,
    Love his outfit!

  10. kri says:

    He isn’t denying the problem. And he isn’t saying (anywhere I can see) NOT to discuss this. It just seems like he is hoping that the work and effort will be enough and some day everyone will get there. I think alot more is needed…a sea change in power in H’Wood. Kevin is at the top right now, but I wonder how it was for him starting out.

  11. Ashley says:

    On a superficial note, I’m digging his facial hair and styling here

  12. Kitten says:

    Eh. He’s gave a very diplomatic, safe answer. He’s playing the Hollywood game and that’s probably a smart move on his part.

    I absolutely disagree with the idea that it’s as simple as just “working hard” for PoC in Hollywood. At the same time, it must suck to be a high-profile black actor in Hollywood because you’re automatically expected to be a mouthpiece for all PoC even if you don’t want that role.

  13. Suzanne says:

    *black man talking about race in hollywood*

    *bunch of white women tell him he’s wrong*

    Works out

    • Capepopsie says:

      You really do have a point there!

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Ok, I see your point. We should stop caring about the issues of anyone who’s not like us. I should never comment on a public statement again that is made by anyone but a white woman. I’m not entitled to an opinion. So anyone who is not a white woman should never be able to comment on something a white woman says, anyone without children should never comment on a statement about children, anyone who isn’t poor should stop caring about poverty, anyone who isn’t rich should not comment on the rich. Got it. Gonna be a low comment day. Oh. Taylor Swift is a white woman! I’ll go there.

      • Llamas says:

        I think the point being made was why are we the ultimate judge of race issues? It ends up seeming like people are trying to tell him about a subject he probably experiences more. It’s not about not having an opinion but more so rescuing certain groups and proceeding to be their mouthpieces and their judges. Kind of like my views on waity trying to be a mouthpiece for mental health. She hasn’t experienced it (that we know of) and she’s trying to act as though she knows everything about it. It’s not our place to play referee for others.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        I disagree that anyone here who offered an opinion is saying that they know all there is to know about it or that they are the ultimate judge of anything. They are just commenting on how they feel about what he said. The words “people will look for any excuse to play the race card in Hollywood” are offensive and dismissive to me. I readily acknowledge that I don’t speak for black people. In fact, that’s how I started my comment. But as a human being who has seen other human beings struggling, I don’t buy into this idea that one black man speaks for all black people either, and he is entitled to say whatever he chooses about a very complicated subject without any comment from white people. His opinion does, in fact, include the “fact” that white people will respond negatively to a conversation about racism in Hollywood. How can he give an opinion on white people’s reactions? This whole argument doesn’t hold water. It’s one thing if people were saying “let me tell you how it is to be black,” but that’s not what they are saying. They have a right to their opinion about what he said.

    • Excellent point. We don’t know the inner workings of race Hollywood better than someone who is there, front and center. Think back people, there was a time when there was one “go to ” black actor; Sidney Poitier, and no well known black female actresses. Don’t deny it, things have improved. Is it as good as it should be? Hell, No. But is Jada’s protest going to make a difference or is Michael B, Kevin H, Viola etc. going to make the change? Where I work we have a Native American woman as our VP, and under her three black women, one Latina and one Asian guy. Under them a slew of supervisors of color. That change started in the 70s because prior to that our dept., as I understand it, was 90% white. Our management is more diverse than the city’s population which is now only 5% black, 15% Latino and 30% Asian. I agree with Kevin, Hollywood is getting more diverse as our taste changes

    • Milo says:

      Oooh go hide cause you’re gonna get drug!! White women are allowed to disagree with someone talkinBout their experience if they aren’t following the accepted social agenda. Whitesplaining is only an issue when white people are telling black people they shouldn’t be complaining. If a black person says he doesn’t have anything to complain about, he’s DELUSIONAL.

  14. cakecakecake says:

    He’s working NOW, let’s see where his funny gets him in five yrs.
    he’s not funny to me and he is saying that because he seems to be on top NOW.

    forced funny, I do not care for him at all.

  15. Etois says:

    Haha have to agree with the commenter above. Because white women know all about the cultural nuances of racial diversity in American media. It is so hilarious how commenters on this site are “all-knowing” about such things. He’s actually right, to a large degree. Bringing negative attention to it doesn’t create an environment of wanting to seriously consider an East Asian man over a white man for his talents. It causes people to begrudgingly approach the matter.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      So you are “all knowing” about how negative comments affect every person who hears them? White people, that is. When we hear negative comments, it makes us not want to hire an East Asian man over a white man. Got it. I didn’t know that. Thank you for enlightening me.

      This is such a stupid game.

  16. Div says:

    Hm. I’m black and while I mostly disagree with Kevin (and I hate the word race card)…he’s not 100 percent wrong (only 95% wrong imo lol). #Oscarssowhite and #askhermore have become way more of a talking point instead of something that offered substantive change…to provoke change people and journalists need to go after the studios and producers to produce more diversified content and promote the hell out of it come Oscar time. It was irritating that the mostly old white men overlooked Idris and MBJ, but MBJ also barely got an Oscar push by the studio. I feel like instead of asking random celebrities…it would be better to go after people like Harvey W. on diversity. Some film journalists also did become overly negative-people were dragging the Coen brothers and calling them racist for only having one POC actress in a small supporting role in their 1950s set Hail Cesar! It almost seemed like a personal vendetta, because there are way more blatant cases of all white or nearly all white casts. Basically feel like a huge chunk of the media ran with it for clickbait and didn’t bother to fully examine the causes and issues like the producers who fail to recognize that diversity is important, etc….

  17. Natalie says:

    Kevin Hart is able to put his head down and work because of the discussions started by generations of black actors before him. Right now, Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle comes to mind. Aziz Ansari is doing something similar in Masters of None. These are necessary discussions.

  18. Dirty Martini says:

    I would never suggest that racism (and sexism) doesn’t exist in Hollywood or anywhere else for that matter. His points though are well taken. Bust your butt, work hard, be good and be in a position to make change. What is that old saying “the harder I worked, the luckier I got?”

    No one with a brain and eyes in the head would declare racism or sexism nonexistent. Yet humans are flawed….all humans. And it is perplexing (and wrong) that every single good thing that happens to someone else happens because they are white (or male or straight or…) …….and single every bad thing that happens to me is because I am a person of color( or female or LGBTQ etc.)

    He sounds pragmatic.

  19. Birdy says:

    i agree with him. he is right on the money and some of his movies are very funny! cant wait for the secret life of pets :)

  20. Lille says:

    I think it takes multiple courses of action to make changes, in almost every area of life. So, some people will raise awareness by talking about it and exposing the issues to those who aren’t aware, but would like to be. Kevin is helping by being a model employee, having a broad appeal to national and international audiences, and like he said, helping others when he gets to a place in his career where he can do that.

  21. dAli G says:

    Ok, he’s starting to make those Will Smith-esque “There’s no racism, blacks just need to do better” types of comments. I never judged him cheating habitually on his first wife who was there when he had nothing, I didn’t go H.A.M. when he went on a comedic twitter rant about dark skinned black women having bad credit nor did I ever entertain the fact that he never flaunted his first wife the way his does his mixed race fiancee who he knows just as well as we do had it not been for his status, she wouldn’t have looked down in his direction. Hart says a lot of deep motivational shit and I commend him for it but underneath all the celebrity is a tiny self-loathing black man. The real him is about to manifest itself and after I post this comment I’m just gonna whip out the popcorn and watch this shit unfold.