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The Evolution of #OscarsSoWhite

On Monday, January 13, 2020, Issa Rae and John Cho announced the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards. Prior to the announcements, I had been following and watching all of the Oscar contenders as they campaigned for a nomination. Personally, I had been rooting for Jennifer Lopez and Awkwafina to receive their first Oscar nomination, Lupita Nyong’o for a Leading Actress nomination, and Parasite for as many nominations as it could get. However, when the nominees were announced only one person of color was nominated in the major acting categories. This lack of diversity in the nominees sparked the revival of #OscarsSoWhite.


(Photo Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter)


#OscarsSoWhite began in 2015 by editor April Reign in response to the Oscar nominations of the 87th Academy Awards. In the 87th Academy Awards, all of the acting categories had white nominees, and in the director category, there was only one person of color and no women nominated. During this year, critics had predicted Ava DuVerney would get a Best Director nom, David Oyelowo a Best Actor nomination, and a Supporting Actor nomination for Riz Ahmed for his work in Nightcrawler. In the following year, for the 88th Academy Awards, the Oscar nominations again shut out people of color for all of the major acting categories. 

(Photo Courtesy of The Atlantic)


In 2017, in  response to the backlash of #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy invited 774 new members, 39% of whom were women and 30% were people of color. Then in 2018, 928 new members were invited to join the Academy. Out of these new members, 49% were women and 38% were people of color. As of 2019, the Academy continued to invite 842 members. Of these 842, half were women, and 29% were people of color. Per the Academy website, in 2019, the total percentage of women members is at 32% and there is a total of 16% of members who are people of color. With the admittance of new members, the 89th, 90th, and 91st Academy Awards included more diverse nominees.

(Photo Courtesy of YouTube)


Despite the structural changes The Academy has made with new members in the past few years, the 2020 Oscar nominations prove that the Academy needs to undergo more structural changes. The 2020 nominations represent the need to change not only the Academy but Hollywood structures that prevent people of color and women from receiving recognition. With an array of diverse actors, directors, cinematographers, and writers we can only hope that the Academy can begin to be more progressive with the people and films they vote for.

Hola! I'm Julissa Guerrero Iniguez. I attend the University of California Riverside as an English major and Latin American Studies minor. During my free time, I like to read and do DIYs.
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