The last time Forest Whitaker won an Academy Award was in 2008 for her performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, but based on his performance as the title character in Lee Daniel’s The Butler, Whitaker may take home another Oscar statuette this awards season.

The 52-year-old producer/director stars alongside Oprah Winfrey in the American historical drama.

Whitaker discussed his role as Cecil Gaines with theGrio, and also revealed the perks of being Winfrey’s ‘work husband.’

“You get to work with a great actress; that’s good, and you get to be enveloped with a really good heart and a really kind person,” Whitaker said of Winfrey. “I think she really strove to build our relationship and connection and I think it really worked. She’s promoting the film and I think that’s going to help the film, partly because of who she is, as a world figure.”

Click here to watch Oprah talk about her role as Gloria Gaines in ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’

During an emotional scene in The Butler, Whitaker’s character is confronted with the hardships of living in the deep south during the time of segregation and racial discrimination. A young Cecil Gaines has an internal dialogue about being black and living in Mississippi, “the law was against us, the law wasn’t on our side,” he says.

Whitaker talked with Chris Witherspoon about the hot-button social issues that our plaguing the current generation of young black men.

“With “Stand Your Ground” laws, stop-and-frisk, and the new voting rights amendment, people have to remain vigilant and they have to recognize what’s going on. I know people’s voices are being formed, but at least let them be formed and take a stand as to what you think, so that you can take some steps. It does not all have to be aggressive action. Some of it will be… but it can be writing a letter, it could be calling someone, setting up a town meeting, calling like ten of your friends. This movie is trying to say that, in a way.”

Lee Daniels’ The Butler opens nationwide August 16.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter for more Entertainment news at @WitherspoonC