Lack of diversity brings Oscar drama

As a place which specializes in creating alternate worlds and capturing larger than life moments on camera, Hollywood is anything but black and white. But this year, a lack of diversity in the Academy Award nominations raised concerns that Hollywood isn’t as colorful as one would think – concerns that it is simply too white.

In the 2015 Academy Awards Ceremony, also known as the Oscars, no black actors were nominated for main or supporting acting roles. Over the complete lifetime of the Academy Awards, only 14 black actors have won acting oscars, and far fewer asian and hispanic actors have won.

Several Oscar snubs have garnered attention, including Idris Elba in “Beasts of no Nation”, Michael B. Jordan in “Creed” and the cast of “Straight Outta Compton”. Elba received one of two Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards this year for his supporting role in the film about child soldiers, but was not included in the Oscar nominations. In fact, during this year’s SAG awards, diversity took front stage, as several other black actors took home SAG awards.

Sylvester Stallone is nominated for his supporting role in “Creed” and the two writers of “Straight Outta Compton” are nominated for best original screenplay. All three of them are white. This has raised questions regarding whether or not these actors deserve Oscar nominations over their black cast members, or if this year’s Oscars is just another instance of white privilege in the voting Academy.

Those who have decided to boycott the Oscars, such as director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith, look to the Academy members as the reason for such a lack of diversity. According to a UCLA conducted Hollywood diversity report in 2015, Oscar voters are 94 percent white and 77 percent male. This reflects the staggering lack of diversity of film executives in Hollywood, who are 94 percent white and 100 percent male.

Others are blaming the lack of diversity in Hollywood as a whole and the lack of movies written for colored casts and diverse audiences.

“The issue we need to be looking at is what happens to the film before it gets to the Oscars,” Helen Mirren, an actress and recent Golden Globe nominee, said. “What kind of films are made. And the way in which they are cast. And the scripts. And go all the way back to the writing of the scripts. It’s those things that are much more influential ultimately than who stands with the Oscar.”

Even President Obama weighed in on the controversy. “So I think, as a whole, the industry should do what every other industry should do — which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody,” he said in a ‘Live from the White House’ interview, “And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”

In response to the recent upheaval and cry for more diversity, the Academy motioned to increase the number of women and minorities in the Academy 100 percent by 2020, and planned to enforce new requirements regarding Academy membership in order to decrease the number of older, white males who are monopolizing the vote.

African-american Comedian Chris Rock is scheduled to emcee the event, which will be held this Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre. Though he has received pressure to boycott the ceremony, he has told media outlets he still plans to attend, adding in that he has rewritten his script to fit the ongoing controversy. One thing’s for sure, all eyes in Hollywood will be turned towards Chris Rock at the event he has dubbed, the “White BET awards”.

 

In fact, during this year’s SAG awards, diversity has taken front stage, as several other black actors took home awards including Uzo Aduba, Viola Davis, and Queen Latifah.

 

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