Why Are the Acting Oscar Nominees All White AGAIN?

Posted on January 19, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Spike Lee, who accepted a special Oscar award just two months ago, has said he will boycott the award show this year in protest of yet another all-white list of nominees. He is right to be outraged. How could Sylvester Stallone be nominated for “Creed” while his co-star Michael B. Jordan and writer/director Ryan Coogler are overlooked? What about the extraordinary performances in “Straight Outta Compton” (which only got a writing nomination and the Spike Lee’s completely overlooked “Chi-Raq?” What about a nomination for Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation” Fans and critics are outraged, with #oscarssoswhite hashtags dominating Twitter.

The Washington Post’s Lonnae O’Neal quotes my friend and fellow critic Tim Gordon in an excellent article about the “processing disorder” in the Academy when it comes to nominations for non-white performers.

From 1927 to 1999, a total of 14 black people won Oscars in all categories, he says. In acting categories, only 24 people of color have won since 1927, according to a Post report. More than 90 percent of Oscar voters are white and nearly 80 percent are male, according to the Los Angeles Times, and those numbers directly affect the range of stories and portrayals.

AMPAS head Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African-American woman, is unhappy with the nominations as well, describing herself as “heartbroken and frustrated.” But until the Academy starts admitting more young, diverse members, it is not going to change. Boone agrees. She says. “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond. As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”

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