Matt Damon: People Ain’t Feeling Your ‘Diversity’ Remark, Project Greenlight Got Folks Seeing Red

Matt Damon (L), Effie Brown (R)

*Matt. Matt. Matt. It’s not like we haven’t heard you controversial before. Remarks you made about President Barack Obama are still on rewind. Cue the reel: “You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”


And now, Matt Damon,  you’ve gone and opened your mouth on the diversity issue, and what came out has a lot of people on social media looking at you sideways.

It seems you feel that there is no room for diversity behind the scenes of film-making, only in the casting session. At least that’s what you told black filmmaker, Effie Brown (“Dear White People”), in Sunday’s episode of ‘Project Greenlight’.

First some history on the show itself.

The HBO docuseries “Project Greenlight” produced by Damon and Ben Affleck, has been on hiatus for the past 10 years, but came back to TV on Sunday for a Season Four premier. The show chronicles movie making from a behind-the-scenes perspective. And at the end, the winner is chosen by the episode producers — eight of them in all –consisting of 6 white men, one white woman, and Brown, a black woman.

Brown brought an issue to the table as they were discussing the movie. She said the only black character in the script is a prostitute who gets slapped by a white pimp. Brown wasn’t opposed to the script to the point that she asked them to change it, but suggested they treat it with sensitivity, and select an ethnically diverse finalist. A suggestion that apparently rubbed Damon the wrong way.

“When we talk about diversity, you do it in the casting of the film, not the casting of the show,” Damon argued back. A shocked Brown responded, “Wow!” as she rolled her eyes. In other words, Damon thought it was important to cast ethnic actors, but not necessarily as vital to have the filmmakers in charge of the project be people of color.

Later, on camera, Damon did say he appreciated the fact that Brown brought the issue up. “I’m glad Effie flagged the issue of diversity for all of us.” But he argued that the person for the job be chosen based on “merit,” leaving “all other factors out if it.”

I didn’t see the show, but the video, makes me want to know what happened prior to what we see on camera. And in all fairness, it may give clearer perspective to whether Damon was talking about this film in particular; or making an overall statement.

What do you think?



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