A mere 21 days until the 2016 Oscars and people are still riled up about #OscarsSoWhite. The trending hashtag blew up on Twitter as a way to reflect the lack of diversity in this year’s nomination list. Not a single non-white actor was nominated, I repeat none.
George Clooney, not too long ago, spoke out about the racial bias in the film industry but it hasn’t stopped there. In a recent article by BBC Newsbeat, Femi Oguns, a prominent British agent and African American, shared his own commentary on the issue, saying the industry “can be narrow minded.”
Why is this?
Well, it’s because out of the 6,300 people who decide who’s nominated, 94% are white and 77% are male. This obviously impacts the nominations list, but Oguns believes that it’s time for the industry to reflect the world we live in-not the world they live in.
What about other minority groups?
This is more than just a black and white issue. Latinos, Asian and Native American actors aren’t accurately represented either. In fact, only five Latinos and three Asians have ever taken home the little golden statue in the 87 years of Academy Awards’ history.
Academy CEO Dawn Hudson says, “It feels like the industry is almost at a point of crisis.”
What did the academy do?
During an emergency meeting on Jan. 21, the academy made extensive changes to its voting and recruitment rules. A new sponsorship program was installed as well, which will allow current members to help recruit new members “who represent diversity.” The academy also added three new seats to its board in an effort “to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”
The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was also strategic in composing a tweet with her own statement on the academy’s lack of inclusion, while providing a hopeful and more diverse future of the academy.
So where do we go from here?
The image of the Oscars was in real jeopardy, but key messaging and immediate change implemented by the academy helped to diminish further negative outcry. The academy also made it clear that they would not wait for the industry to implement similar changes; they want to be the leaders in advocating for diversity.
I don’t think the academy would have implemented change as quickly as it had if it weren’t for the Twitter backlash. Since information and opinions can be shared so easily nowadays, I think the academy had no choice. The public momentum on social media and support from A-list celebrities, or should I say, the boycott of the event, helped to create awareness about the lack of diversity in the academy and the film industry. Luckily, the academy heard the public’s plea and is establishing more inclusion.
It’s time for people, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, age, or whatever, to have equal opportunities. The academy can only go so far, now it’s time for the film industry to hop on board and create more roles for non-white actors.