Matt Damon was criticized on social media this week after he appeared to lecture an African-American director about diversity in an episode of his HBO series "Project Greenlight," implying that it only matters in front of the camera and not behind-the-scenes.
The series shows how Damon and his friend, fellow Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck, whittle down up-and-coming directors for a chance to lead a $3 million feature film, according to NBC News.
On Sunday night's season four premiere, Effie Brown, an African-American producer, told a room full of other directors that she preferred the directing team of Leo Kei Angelos and Kristen Brancaccio, pointing out their diversity and saying it would help them handle the film's subject matter involving a black prostitute in the female lead. Angelos is Vietnamese and Brancaccio is a woman.
"When we're talking about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film not in the casting of the show," Damon said during a back and forth with Brown.
"As a producer of 'Project Greenlight,' Damon must have approved of the inclusion of this exchange," Jezebel's Kara Brown pointed out
. "I'd like to think that he decided to include it because showing himself being so incredibly wrong could be a lesson for other filmmakers. But the cynical side of me thinks it was included because he felt he had made his point well and wanted the world to hear it."
Huffington Post entertainment editor Sara Boboltz added
: "Recent headlines, of course, have made clear that diversity in Hollywood is a problem behind the camera as much as it is in front of it. While it's important to show audiences diverse actors, the voices shaping those actors' onscreen portrayal from behind the scenes are just as vital to telling stories from different points of view."
The episode sparked a conversation about the issue online.
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