How Hollywood Can Fix Its Diversity Issue

by Emily Lackey

Guys, we have to talk about the Oscars. And, one of the things we have to talk about is the thing that everyone else is talking about — and that is the lack of diversity in who was nominated by the Academy for the Oscars this year. By “lack of diversity” I’m, of course, referring to fact that the Academy didn't nominate a single person of color in the four major acting categories this year. Even though 2015 was a big year for diversity in Hollywood, with some of the biggest movies starring some of the most talented people of color, not a single one of them is being honored by the Academy. Clearly, there is something very broken about this system. Thankfully however, the CEO of the Academy Awards is finally speaking out about the issue — and her comments lay out a clear path to how we can reverse the Oscars diversity issue, involving every single person in Hollywood.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter , Dawn Hudson, the Academy CEO, said that the issue of diversity will not change “until there's a concerted effort on every single front: talent, the executives in the studios, the people we mentor.” Diversity, and getting more of it in Hollywood, takes more effort than just the Academy voting for different people. Hudson argues that it takes a fundamental shift from the ground up. That instead of “white men running studios who hire other people who look like them,” there needs to a strong shift toward hiring more women and hiring more people of color.

But how does she say Hollywood should accomplish this goal? By being conscious in every single hiring and casting decision that they make. “You have to look at women and people of color every time there's an opening… That's for directing, crewing up, filling a marketing position, finding interns, hiring your next assistant.” Doing that, Hudson argues, would go a long way in helping bridge the diversity gap at every level in Hollywood.

For her part, Hudson says the Academy is already doing this. She claims that, of the people they have hired in the past four years, they have been between 45 and 50 percent people of color. She also says that they’re working harder to “identify talented artists of color to make sure they’re being considered for membership.” Doing this has resulted in greater diversity in the Academy year after year, according to Hudson.

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Still, the complexity of this issue can not be overstated. The solutions Hudson suggests are strong ones, but they are only the beginning. Even Hudson admits that they are only at the start of a process that most likely will take time: “It’s not going to be overnigh t —just the pace can go faster.” As for the all-white nominees this year, Hudson said, “I was devastated.”

Now if studio executives and Hollywood heads would take heed and listen to Hudson’s advice on how to change how things are run in Hollywood. Until then, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a more diverse nominee roster next year.