Why Inclusion & Diversity are Important During Awards Season

With the Golden Globes all given out, and the Oscars right around the corner, we are in the midst of major awards season for film and television. As more nominations and winners are announced, it is important to take a look at who is truly being represented within these award shows. In order to properly begin a conversation around this topic, it is important to know a little bit about the history that exists between minorities and mainstream award shows. 

In both 2015 and 2016, all four of the acting categories (Leading Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress) for the Oscar had only white nominees. This sparked the #OscarsSoWhite, which trended in 2016. Along with the hashtag, numerous celebrities including Spike Lee and Will Smith boycotted the Oscars in response to the lack of diversity. In response to this, the Academy promised that the number of female and minority members would double by 2020 to ensure that there would be more representation. It’s high time for a change to come since the breakdown for acting Oscars won by a minority group are as follows: 14 for black actors, five for Latinx actors, three for Asian actors, and one for an actor of indigenous descent.

* Photo Courtesy of Henry & Co. on Unsplash

This necessity of representation doesn’t just apply to ethnic minority groups. During this year’s Golden Globes, Ellen DeGeneres was given the Carol Bennett Award in honor of her incredible lifelong achievements. In a speech to Ellen beforehand, Kate McKinnon recalled how seeing Ellen come out of the closet on national television helped her in accepting her own sexuality. “And if I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would’ve thought, ‘I could never be on TV. They don’t let LGBTQ people on TV.’ And more than that, I would’ve gone on thinking that I was an alien and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here.” McKinnon’s words speak volumes to the importance of why everyone should be able to see themselves in the people on screen. In 2012, Kate McKinnon became the first openly lesbian cast member of SNL, proving that seeing representation can help lead to more within the entertainment industry. In 1984, The Time of Harvey Milk became the first gay film by openly gay filmmakers to win an Academy Award when it won Best Documentary Feature. In 2017, Yance Ford became the first openly transgender man to be nominated for an Academy Award, and in the same year, Dee Rees became the first queer Black woman to be nominated for a screenplay Oscar. 

The production side of the film industry has been showcased as being predominantly male. Award shows are a big reason as to why this is still presumed to be true, with only five women having ever been nominated for the directing Oscar and only one taking it home. While there are numerous incredible women working as directors, cinematographers, editors, and any and every job on a film set, they aren’t present in the mainstream. It wasn’t until 2017 that a female was nominated for Cinematography. This year, as is has been for most of the years since the Oscars started in 1929, there were no female director nominations, which lead to much uproar across social media. Since it is now easier for opinions to be heard, there is a larger demand for representation since we are aware it’s possible. 

* Photo Courtesy of philippe collard on Unsplash

. Award shows like the Oscars are, for some people, the only insight they have into the world of entertainment. Being more inclusive across all award show categories can help improve the diversity within the entertainment industry. If people can see that a path has already been paved for them to be able to succeed, they are more likely to go through with following their passions. There are so many stories that deserve to be showcased and seen, and continuing to make space for them will lead to incredible outcomes. There are so many people who deserve incredible credit for the opportunities they have opened up for fellow minorities. 

In no ways are awards the only thing that can validate a person or a piece of media. However, a larger number of individuals are more likely to spend their time and money watching films and shows that have been critically acclaimed. An award of any kind can do wonders for a filmmaker’s future, and people of all ages all over the world deserve to see themselves on the big screen