In both 2015 and 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated all 20 spots in the acting categories to white people. This caused outrage with people and cause celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee to boycott The 88th Annual Academy Awards.
The nominations for 2017 were released Tuesday with no uproar now. This year, seven actors and one director of color got a nomination. The actors are Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali, Dev Patel, Ruth Negga, Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavius Spencer, with Barry Jenkins being the only nominated director this year who isn’t white.
It seemed obvious after the 88th Annual Academy Awards there would be a big push for more diversity in the AMPAS and their nominations. The social campaign and the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag certainly helped the push. This may be a big new start for having diversity, but there is still a big lack of it.
Without a doubt, progress has been made. This movement made Fox Studios speed Hidden Figures into production, which got three nominations in the best-adapted screenplay, best supporting actress, and best motion picture category.
Yet there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Dev Patel is the third Indian actor to get nominated for an Oscar with Merle Oberon being nominated in 1953 and Ben Kinglsy being nominated four times, winning in 1983.
Halle Berry is the only black woman to win best actress, which was 15 years ago. It’s sad to say that there has only been one black woman who has won an Oscar for best actress. It’s sad to say that there are still “firsts” for these types of nominations.
Viola Davis is the first black actress to be nominated for three Academy Awards. This year it will be the 89th Annual Academy Awards and the fact that a black female actress is earning her third nomination for the first time is sad to know.
Even though the AMPAS is making an improvement and is still far away from truly being diverse, it is heading in the right direction by even having more variety in Hollywood productions.
Disney and Marvel Studios hired black filmmakers to direct expensive making films like A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay who got nominated for 13th in the best documentary category. DuVernay will be the first woman of color to direct a live action film with a budget over $100 million. Black Panther is the other film by Marvel Studios, which will be directed by Ryan Coogler who made last year’s Creed.
Movements like this are helping make history in Hollywood, even though they should have been done many years ago. This movement isn’t making the AMPAS nominate non-white people because they’re black or Asian. It’s because this is showing more talent from both genders and all races.
Who knows if #OscarsSoWhite will trend again, but if the AMPAS really look for more diversity and really see the true talent they are missing out on, then maybe this will help Hollywood and society move in the right direction.
The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air on ABC on Feb. 26 with late night television star, Jimmy Kimmel hosting for the first time.