Ballots for this year’s Academy Awards have been cast…but not many represent creators of color.
You may remember the 2015 campaign #OscarsSoWhite, which voiced outrage over lack of representation for exceptional films produced by creators of color. Five years later, it seems this trend has continued. Even with the release of films such as “The Farewell”, “Queen and Slim”, and “Hustlers”–all which garnered positive critical acclaim and performed well at the box office–the Academy failed to recognize any of these films for their prestigious awards.
The following categories lauded people of color:
Best Lead Actress, Best Original Song
Cynthia Erivo – “Harriet”
Previously known for roles on ___ and ___, Erivo has earned critical acclaim for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in Harriet, one of the first biopics championing the astounding achievements of the African-American heroine and undisputed leader of the Underground Railroad.
Best Lead Actor
Antonio Banderas – “Pain and Glory”
Banderas brings to life Salvador Ballo, a film director troubled by the intersection of his past and present, as he is plagued by the choices of his career and life.
Best Animated Short
Matthew A. Cherry – “Hair Love”
This heartwarming adaptation of the children’s book of the same name explores the tender connection between a black father and daughter.
Consistently outperforming their peers, films Joker, 1917 and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood dominated the categories. Other films such as Parasite, from director Bong Joon-ho are stories by creators of color, the list of films recognized with black creators at the helm are very few. Many have suggested that this is due to lack of representation within the Academy. According to the New York Times, as of 2019, minorities make up nearly a third of New Oscar voters (New York Times). In the wake of 2015 #OscarsSoWhite, a multitude of diverse additions were invited to join the Academy, the body of creatives that votes to decide the year’s best films. But how can creators of color expect to be recognized by a host of voters who do not reflect them?
Recent members such as Leticia Wright (Black Panther), Sterling K. Brown (This is Us), Winston Duke (Us) can now advocate for their peers to receive much deserved recognition. Articles from the Hollywood Reporter cannot disclose the exact number of members of the Academy but does offer that 32% of membership is female and 16% represent people of color. It is hard to estimate of that 16%, how many members are black. (The Hollywood Reporter)
Antebellum, The Photograph and Da 5 Bloods are just a few of this year’s highly anticipated films. It just so happens that all of them feature black creators either in front of or behind the camera. With diverse additions to the Academy, advanced recognition of Netflix releases and increased awareness of films lacking culture representation, it can be expected that this will be a great year for black cinema.
You too play a role in deciding which films become 20201 Oscar nominees. Support black films while they are in theaters. Share your positive reviews online using social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Films that have demonstrated exceptional cultural and popular relevance and that also perform well at the box office are more likely to catch the Academy’s eye. See movies once, twice or recommend them to a friend. Your ticket is your vote.