A lack of diversity for Academy Awards

Taylor Richards – News Writer

The 88th Academy Awards announced their nominations on Jan. 14 and marked the second year in a row there were no black or minority Oscar acting nominees. Many Hollywood actors and actresses are not too happy about the nominations, and some are boycotting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by announcing they will not show up to the ceremony. Twitter is weighing in on the controversy with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

The first celebrity to announce their boycott of the Academy Awards was Jada Pinkett Smith. Other actors, actresses and filmmakers who voiced their disdain were Will Smith, Spike Lee, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

“At the Oscars . . . people of color are always welcomed to give out awards . . . even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments,” said Pinkett Smith on Twitter. “Should people of color refrain from participating altogether?”

The anger was about the lack of representation, but George Clooney brought up another issue that is directly tied to why there were no minority faces.

“If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job. Think about how many more African Americans were nominated,” said Clooney. “I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?”

Chris Rock is the host of this year’s award ceremony and sophomore Mary Rudzis is looking forward to seeing how he’s going to “handle the ignorance alone” through the jokes he’ll tell on stage. Rudzis is also concerned with how future generations will take this news.

“If you don’t see people like you on the television, then that can affect young children,” she said. “So if a little kid wants to be an actor when they grow up and see that all the actors being nominated for the biggest awards are white, if they don’t have that inclusion, then [The Academy] is practically ruining the dreams of these kids.”

According to the Rolling Stone article, “Chris Rock Rewriting Monologue Following Oscars Boycott” by Daniel Kreps on Jan. 24, 2016 the comedian has changed his opening statement to address the controversy.

On the other end, there were black actors who didn’t think the Oscar nominations were worth getting upset about. Janet Hubert, the former aunt from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” said “there’s a lot going on in the world,” and that “it just ain’t that deep” to be fighting about the Oscars.

Whoopi Goldberg had her own advice: “You wanna boycott something? Don’t go see the movies that don’t have your representation. That’s the boycott you want,” she said. “To me, we have this conversation every year. It pisses me off.”

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy, is the first black female face to hold the position. She gave a keynote speech in South Korea last fall to champion global diversity in the film industry. Isaacs immediately spoke out once controversy started. She said she is “both heartbroken and frustrated at the lack of inclusion.”

On Jan. 21, the Academy made an announcement on their website addressing this issue:

“The Board of Governors of the Academy approved a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies and its voting members significantly more diverse. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”

Photo Credit: Davidlohr Bueso


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