Jada Pinkett Smith Expresses Her Oscars Disappointment & Raises An Important Point About Diversity
Ever since Thursday morning when the 2016 Oscar nominees were announced, the award show has been the subject of conversation. Whether speculation about who will take home the trophies or disappointment about snubs, there's a lot to talk about. One subject that can't be stressed enough? The lack of diversity. A quick scan of this year's Best Actor and Best Actress nominees reveals a striking similarity: They're all white. Not a single person of color is nominated in an acting category. In case that's not upsetting enough, this is the second year in a row that this happened. On Saturday, Jada Pinkett Smith tweeted about her Oscars disappointment. In a series of three tweets, Smith wrote,
At the Oscars...people of color are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain, But we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments. Should people of color refrain from participating all together? People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment.
Considering #OscarsSoWhite became a trend on Twitter, Pinkett Smith isn't alone in these feelings. It's admirable for the actor to call out the Academy, while respecting her fellow artists. Although I don't think boycotting the show is necessarily the right answer, the fact that such a protest is even on the table is telling in itself. It really shows what the situation has come to. If enough people call attention to the lack of diversity, perhaps it will actually set the tone and lead to much-needed change in the future.
It's also worth noting that Halle Berry remains the only black woman to win Best Actress in the entire 88-year history of the award show. She earned an Academy Award in 2002 for Monster's Ball and gave an inspiring speech about opening doors for other women of color. Unfortunately, no other women have walked through that figurative door since.
As Viola Davis put so eloquently at last year's Emmys, "The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. " This means the approach to change should be twofold: creating more roles for women of color, as well as recognizing their talent at award shows afterward.
While this year's Oscars nominations fall into a disappointing pattern, it doesn't have to be always be this way. And with stars like Pinkett Smith pointing out this flaw, here's hoping it leads to a serious change in the future.