Celebs Join The #OscarsSoWhite Conversation
Nominations and award shows honoring actors' work should be things that are celebrated. However, when diversity is extremely lacking (and continues to be absent) from award shows, well, how can anyone truly be excited? The 2016 Oscar nominations lack diversity, and this is the second year in a row that the Academy Awards appear to be moving backwards, rather than forward. And it's causing a conversation among many actors, so much so that some are thinking about boycotting the Oscars, while others are reacting with disdain or are simply in agreement that change is needed now more than ever.
Even Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs is disappointed in the nominations. "I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion," she said in a statement released Monday. "This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes."
So, where are the changes? The Oscars' and entertainment industry's diversity issue is continuing to exist, and while many continue to voice their concern, nothing appears to be sticking when it comes to real change.
Maybe, just maybe, now that #OscarsSoWhite is a Twitter trend (yet again) and celebs are coming together, a positive step forward will be made regarding diversity. Until then, here's the opinions of several celebs who are beyond disappointed with their industry.
The Beasts of No Nation star spoke with U.K. Parliament Monday about the entertainment business' overall lack of diversity. He said,
We need to count up what everybody has, see the lay of the land, see who has which careers in TV, who makes TV, who’s allowed on TV. You have to ask the question, "Are black people always playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or always talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?"
He also explained the reason behind his move to America:
The reason I went to America is because the USA has the most famous diversity policy of all, and it’s called the American dream. The problem is the gap between the dream and the reality … to champion diversity is to champion the American dream. That’s the guarantee I want here in Britain. Where’s the British dream?
While chatting with Variety, Clooney opened up about the Oscar noms and, like Elba, he's disappointed. "If you think back 10 years ago, the Academy was doing a better job," he said. "Think about how many more African Americans were nominated. I would also make the argument, I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: How many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?"
Let’s look back at some of the nominees. I think around 2004, certainly there were black nominees — like Don Cheadle, Morgan Freeman. And all of a sudden, you feel like we’re moving in the wrong direction. There were nominations left off the table. There were four films this year: Creed could have gotten nominations; Concussion could have gotten Will Smith a nomination; Idris Elba could have been nominated for Beasts of No Nation; and Straight Outta Compton could have been nominated. And certainly last year, with Selma director Ava DuVernay — I think that it’s just ridiculous not to nominate her.
Clooney also made another valid point by saying that Hispanic and Latinos in the industry have it "even worse." As the Oscar-winning actor declared, "We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it."
During the King Legacy Awards Monday night, Oyelowo said about the 2016 nominations,
A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, [Academy president] Cheryl [Boone Isaacs] invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then. We had a deep and meaningful [discussion]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable. This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith made headlines for giving her opinion about the Oscars on Twitter. As you can see above, she even suggested that a boycott may need to happen in order for change to happen. "At the Oscars... people of color are always welcomed to give out awards... even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments," she tweeted. "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."
Like Smith, director Spike Lee took to Instagram to express how he can no longer support the awards and will be skipping the Oscars this year. "For too many years when the Oscars nominations are revealed, my office phone rings off the hook with the media asking me my opinion about the lack of African-Americans and this year was no different," he shared. This is just a short quote from his lengthy post, which you can read above.
The 2016 Oscars will be hosted by Chris Rock, but that isn't stopping him from commenting on the nominations. As you can see above, he shared an Oscar promo starring himself, along with the hashtag #TheWhiteBETAwards. He doesn't go any further than that, but I think his point of view comes across.
There's no doubt many celebs feel the exact same way about the entertainment industry when it comes to diversity, so here's hoping their outspokenness is heard and not overshadowed.