Helen Mirren says it's 'unfair' to criticize the Oscars for nominating only white actors

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Helen Mirren Defends Academy Over Oscars Diversity Controversy

Helen Mirren is defending the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, saying it's "unfair" to criticize the organization over the Oscars' diversity controversy.

For the second year in a row, all 20 actors nominated are white, which prompted criticisms against both the Academy and Hollywood for a lack of recognition given to minorities.

"I think it's unfair to attack the Academy. It just so happened this year, it went that way," the Oscar winner said in an interview with the UK's Channel 4 News.

Though not nominated for an Oscar this year, Mirren was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for her portrayal of Hedda Hopper in "Trumbo." She mentioned Idris Elba, fellow Golden Globe nominee and SAG Award winner for Netflix's "Beasts of No Nation," as someone who could have been nominated for an Oscar.

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Helen Mirren says it's 'unfair' to criticize the Oscars for nominating only white actors
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Helen Mirren, winner of the award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for 'The Audience,' poses in the press room during the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Helen Mirren accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for “The Audience” onstage during the 2015 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
FILE - This June 3, 2014 file photo shows British actress Helen Mirren at the Glamour Magazine Women Of The Year Awards at Berkeley Square Gardens in central London. Producers of Peter Morgan's play said Wednesday, Aug. 6, that Mirren will return to Broadway this spring as Elizabeth II in "The Audience." Previews in New York start Feb. 17 and it will run through June at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, directed by two-time Tony Award winner Stephen Daldry. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)
Megan Ellison, Helen Mirren and David O. Russell in the audience at the 25th annual Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for Producers Guild/AP Images)
"House Full" sign for The Audience with Helen Mirren at Gielgud Theatre, London
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) Dame Helen Mirren (C) bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of 'The Audience' at the Gielgud Theatre on March 5, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) Dame Helen Mirren bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of 'The Audience' at the Gielgud Theatre on March 5, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
FILE - This is a Sunday, April 28, 2013 file photo of Helen Mirren winner of Best Actress Award for The Audience in the press room at the Olivier Awards 2013 at the Royal opera House in London. Mirren's award-winning performance as Queen Elizabeth II in "The Audience" will be beamed this week from London's Gielgud Theatre to hundreds of movie theaters around the world in a live broadcast. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)
This undated file image provided by Boneau/Bryan-Brown shows Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in a promotional photo for Peter Morgan's play "The Audience." National Theatre Live, which broadcasts stage shows from England to movie screens worldwide, said Monday, June 17, 2013, that its June 13 live broadcast of Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in the play "The Audience" has captured its largest audience to date. (AP Photo/Boneau/Bryan-Brown, Johan Persson, File)
Helen Mirren winner of Best Actress Award for The Audience seen in the press room at the Olivier Awards 2013 at the Royal opera House in London on Sunday, April 28th, 2013. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 05: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME. MANDATORY CREDIT PHOTO BY DAVE M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES REQUIRED) Dame Helen Mirren attends an after party following the press night performance of 'The Audience' at One Whitehall Place on March 5, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 09: Dame Helen Mirren sighting leaving the Geilgud Theatre following her performance in The Audience on May 9, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Alan Chapman/FilmMagic)
British actress Helen Mirren, right, reacts to a sign addressed to her following a ceremony to award her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Actress Helen Mirren talks to the audience at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Friday, Jan. 26, 2007, as recipient of the festival's Outstanding Performance of the Year Award for her Best Actress Oscar-nominated role in the film "The Queen." (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant)
Actress Helen Mirren signs autographs at her Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony on January 3, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Fox Searchlight/AP Images)
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"Idris Elba absolutely would have been nominated for an Oscar," she said. "He wasn't because not enough people saw or wanted to see a film about child soldiers."

She added that she's not excusing the Academy for the lack of diversity; rather, the problem extends to Hollywood in general.

"I'm saying that the issue we need to be looking at is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars, what kinds of films are made and the way in which they're cast and the scripts," she said. "It's those things that are much more influential, ultimately, than who stands there with an Oscar."

Following the backlash, the Academy has announced plans to restructure its membership by doubling minority and female members by 2020.

See photos of this year's Academy Award nominees:

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Helen Mirren says it's 'unfair' to criticize the Oscars for nominating only white actors

Best Picture

The Big Short

(Photo via Paramount Pictures)

Best Picture

Bridge of Spies

(Photo via DreamWorks II Distribution Co.)

Best Picture

Brooklyn

(Photo via Fox Searchlight)

Best Picture

Mad Max: Fury Road

(Photo via Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best Picture

The Martian

(Photo via 20th Century Fox)

Best Picture

The Revenant

(Photo via Twentieth Century Fox)

Best Picture

Room

(Photo via A24 Films)

Best Picture

Spotlight

(Photo via Open Road Films)

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston

(Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Best Actor

Matt Damon

(Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio

(Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Screen Actors Guild Foundation)

Best Actor

Michael Fassbender

(Photo by Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images)

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne

(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)

Best Actress

Cate Blanchette

(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Brie Larson

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Jennifer Lawrence

(Photo by James Devaney/Getty Images)

Best Actress

Charlotte Rampling

(Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage)

Best Actress

Saoirse Ronan

(Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

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