Why are the #OscarsSoWhite this year?

#OscarSoWhite blew up on Twitter this January, a reference to the lack of racial and gender diversity in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominations. For the second year running, people of colour were not found among the Oscar’s main categories:  Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.  The outrage has opened a running dialogue as to why this happened.   


The first problem is lack of diversity within The Academy membership who cast the nominations. While the head of the Academy is an African-American woman, of its 6000 members; 94% are white, 76% are men and the average age is 63.

This inevitably affects both the genres and individuals we see nominated each year.  

Genre bias for one, is also a huge problem. With the few exceptions of such as The Sixth Sense (1999), True Grit (2010) and Ex-Machina this year, genres such as westerns, sci-fi, thrillers and comedies are rarely nominated let alone win Academy awards. And yet, within these genres are films that have had huge influences on the film industry and society today.

And as a film fan, I can’t help but notice that some incredible female directors have been snubbed in the category that hasn’t seen a woman in 6 years.  


(Top to bottom: Jen McGowan – Kelly and Cal (2014), Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty (2013), Ava DuVernay – Selma (2014) )


Now this year’s nominations explore and bring awareness to a wide range of issues in society, and do so in a really powerful way. They all of course have merit and are well deserved.  

But the film viewing experience is a subjective one and if we don’t have an Academy that reflects the diversity of society, the average age of Oscar winners will continue to be 40. The average gender will be male. The average Best Picture film will be a biopic. And the average race will be white.

The problem also comes back to The Industry.  

Variety Magazine highlighted that if hiring in Hollywood reflected the U.S. population, Oscar voters would have included more than 150 films directed by women, 45 directed by blacks, 50 by Hispanics, and dozens of movies by directors who are Asian-American, LGBT+ individuals and people with disabilities. Individuals within these groups have demonstrated have been nominated and indeed won Oscars in the past. It is not a question of a lack of talent.

(Top to bottom: Lupita Nyong’O – Won Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave (2013),  Bérénice Bejo - Nominated Best Actress for The Artist (2011) Alfonso Cuarón – Won Best Director for Gravity (2013) )

It’s a case of presenting a large pool of diverse actors that are eligible for nominations.

Image Sources:








Sources :