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Helen Mirren defends Academy over Oscar controversy

London: Amid the growing clamour over the diversity debate in this year's Oscar nominations, veteran actress Hellen Mirren has come to the defence of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren

The "Trumbo" actress, who herself is an Academy Award-winner, spoke about the controversy on Wednesday on a TV show and said that she thinks "it's unfair to attack the Academy", reports ew.com.

Asked if she felt the Oscars are "behind the times" for failing to nominate a single black actor for the second year in a row, Mirren said on a show: "It just so happened it went that way."

While she conceded that "Idris Elba absolutely would have been nominated for an Oscar," she explained that he was not simply because, "not enough people saw -- or wanted to see -- a film about child soldiers".

Elba won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for his role in "Beasts of No Nation".

Mirren said: "I'm saying that the issue we need to be looking at is what happens before the film gets to the Oscars.

"What kind of films are made, and the way in which they're cast, and the scripts... so it's those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands there with an Oscar."

The Academy, for its part, announced some sweeping changes to its voting process in response to the diversity uproar, including the appointment of three women and people of colour as governors and a wide-scale campaign to recruit new members believed to "represent greater diversity".

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