Hugh Jackman was ashamed of himself for not realizing this year's (16) top Oscar nominees were all white when he first read the short list.
The Australian X-Men star, who earned his first Oscar nomination for Les Miserables in 2012, admits he was just as stunned to learn no black actors, directors or films had been shortlisted for the top categories - but only after the #Oscarssowhite uproar broke out on social media following the nominations reveal earlier this month (Jan16).
"It never flagged in my head that this was an issue, and that gave me pause later," Jackman tells People.com. "So this is something that we need to talk about."
It's the second consecutive year diversity at the Academy Awards has become a hot topic, prompting stars like Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith and Tyrese Gibson to call for a boycott of the Oscars.
The controversy subsequently prompted organization bosses to introduce sweeping changes to membership and voting rules in a unanimous decision last week (ends22Jan16).
Jackman reveals he did "actually vote for some African Americans" on his ballot sheet, but he insists the diversity problem doesn't just concern people of color.
He is fully supportive of the Board of Governors' decision to increase the number of women and minority members invited to join the Academy in the near future, and he believes the historic measures will change the industry for the better.
"Not just race - sex, sexuality, every front, films are there to tell the stories of our time," Jackman explains. "(They) need to reflect the world, the real world, and so it's a great conversation to have.
"I think actually Hollywood's in a great position right now to be able to lead the way."