“The Issue Is”: One-on-one with George Clooney

This week, an exclusive conversation with George Clooney.

In 2022, the Oscar-winning filmmaker helped establish the Roybal Film and Television Production Magnet School at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in Los Angeles.

The program, a public-private partnership aims to provide a pipeline to the film industry for students from underserved communities, has been described by U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as a model for the nation.

Following a visit to Roybal with Cardona, advisory board members Don Cheadle and Mindy Kaling, Second Gentleman of the U.S. Doug Emhoff, and other high profile industry executives, Clooney sat down with Elex Michaelson for an extensive one-on-one for "The Issue Is."



CLOONEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "We have a problem in our industry with diversity, you know, particularly not as much in front of the camera, honestly, we're getting better at that, but behind the camera, you know, if you go to the sets, they don't represent what the rest of the country looks like. We're trying to fix that, but a lot of times we're doing it sort of at the end of the process instead of at the beginning - we're trying to hire people just to say quickly, let's fix it, let's hire people, and it's setting people up to fail, quite honestly…

"We thought, well, if we get them into learning this trade in 10th grade and 11th grade and 12th grade, tying the curriculum directly to the school, so these kids that you see that you saw today, they're going to get a diploma, they can go to college if they want, and they might very well want to, but they're also going to get an internship and apprenticeships…

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"There's so many young people who don't even know these jobs exist, you know - they're kind of legacy jobs - hey don't know about you know, a visual effects supervisor that can get paid a lot of money. And so they don't know to apply, they don't know to apply themselves to learn it, and so they're not getting the opportunity until it's too late. So our thought was, well, let's get in early…."



CLOONEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "They're in 10th grade, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do until I was about 21 or 22 years old, and they're getting ideas that they'd never known. They didn't know that these these jobs existed. They didn't know that it was available or ever going to be available to them. So watching that world open up for a bunch of young kids is really important, and for us, in particular, this is kind of fulfilling the promise that we all think we're making constantly. You know, we keep thinking, we're saying, well, we want to do the right thing and we want to hire and we want diversity. We want all the things. And you'll hear the phrase like the Oscars are so white and things like that, well, clearly this is a problem and we need to address it at a much earlier stage. And that's how you fix it…"



CLOONEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I grew up, you know, we weren't poor, but we didn't have money, you know, but I was a white kid in middle America, and so the thought that there wasn't anything available to me never occurred. You always thought that that was something that was available to you, not that I knew about these things, but there's still a huge difference, as you know, and you have seen...

"We're just trying to level the playing field. You know, it's a funny thing, there's a lot of political, you know, issues that come into play, obviously, when you talk about government spending and things like this. We feel as if, first of all, you get more than your money back, these kids become taxpayers really, really quickly, and if and if your inclination is to say affirmative action isn't fair - and that is many people's inclination - this is the argument to say, well, then this is the way to do it, right? Now you're saying, okay, no one's taking anyone's job that isn't already qualified for it, but they weren't getting the opportunities, they weren't getting the educational opportunities. They didn't even know the jobs existed. So we're just saying, let's do it earlier and see if we can fix this problem…"



CLOONEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It just reminds you of how responsible we are for one another, you know, we're all responsible one another.... We're all in this together and we have to look out for one another and we have a responsibility to one another. And, you know, I grew up a small town in Kentucky, which is, you know, their tendency would be to be conservative, as you can imagine. Well, you wouldn't know that when you walk the streets, when you throw out all of this other stuff, we look out for one another as human beings, and given that opportunity to whom much has been given, much is expected, and we have responsibilities…"


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.