The Oscars Nominations Stir Up Controversy

With the beginning of each new year comes the arrival of awards season. For many, these numerous, highly publicized events can quickly fade to a white noise of jokes, dresses, selfies, and occasionally controversy.

 

 

This year, the Academy Awards nominations have once again created quite the stir in Hollywood and throughout the country. For the second year in a row, all 20 Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress nominations include no people of color, despite a multitude of highly acclaimed films and performances by people of color. To make matters even worse, there is a glaring lack of diversity among nominees in all 24 categories.

 

After the nominations were announced on January 14th, last year’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag reemerged on Twitter and other social media outlets. Many actors and actresses have come forth since the announcement to express their frustrations with the Academy and its consistent lack of inclusion. Jada Pinkett Smith has most famously made her voice known on the subject, as she claimed that people of color have made their contributions in the film industry and, at this point, begging for recognition “diminishes dignity [and] power”. In her viral video she also announced she would not be attending the award show nor watching it from home. Other big Hollywood names have taken to social media to discuss the issue. Pinkett Smith’s husband, Will Smith, and director Spike Lee, have joined in on the boycott of the show to express their desires for a dramatic change in Hollywood, while many other actors have decided to attend the show, but remain in support of the boycott and hope for change in the future.

 

 

The Academy’s president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has chimed in on the debate as well, expressing her distaste at the lack of inclusion in this year’s nominations and her desire for a change in the makeup of the Academy.

 

 

It reads:

"I'd like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year's nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. Ths is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for a big change. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the oming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.

As mant of you know, we have implemented changes to the diversity of your membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly. 

This isn't unprecedented for the Academy. In the '60s and '70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to e in our effort to move forward together."

 

Boone Isaacs has already begun to make this change. With the help of Boone Isaacs and the Board’s Membership and Administration Committee, the Board of Directors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unanimously voted on Thursday to make significant changes in the membership of the Academy in future years. Their new goal is to double the number of women and diverse membership by 2020. They will also be taking more immediate measures to increase diversity on the board of directors by adding and filling more seats in the coming months. While this is just a step in the right direction, these actions paint a promising future for equality and inclusion in Hollywood. 

Make sure to keep up with the progress of the Academy Awards on Facebook and on our website!