Oscars still lack diversity– despite the fact that it’s 2015.


McKella Sylvester

Known as the most prestigious award ceremony in film, the Academy Awards was seen by 36.6 million people on February 22. Leading up to this year’s Oscars, there has been conflict about the diversity of the nominees.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that chooses the winners and nominees of the Oscars, is comprised of more than 6,000 people. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, about 94% of the members are white. It should also be noted that members receive life terms and a majority of the members are older.
With this information in mind, viewers and the people behind Hollywood alike may need to consider that the majority of the Academy may have more traditional and outdated points of view of what makes a movie (and all the individuals involved on and off-screen) Oscar worthy.
To be blunt, the 2015 Academy Awards lacks diversity race-wise and gender-wise. For example, all of the nominations for Best Picture such as ‘American Sniper’, ‘The Imitation Game’, and ‘Boyhood,’, focused on male protagonists.
Much of these nominations for Best Picture also had actors that had nominations for Best Actor In Lead/Supporting Role. Films like ‘Wild’ and ‘Still Alice’ had outstanding critical reception, but were only recognized for Best Actress In a Leading Role. The films that had male protagonists had multiple nominations across the board.
It is also difficult not to notice that the actors nominated for Best Actor/Actress in Lead or Supporting Roles were all white. ‘Theory of Everything’, ‘The Imitation Game’, and ‘Birdman’ all had white actors nominated, while ‘Selma’ lead David Oyelowo was not nominated, despite the movie’s immense box office success. This is an old problem prominent in the movie-making industry.
Only a fraction of Hollywood creates roles for people from a myriad of backgrounds. It seems as though the only times a Black/African American man or woman receives prestigious recognition is when that actor plays a slave or any other racially degrading role. And do not forget Bollywood, the Indian version of Hollywood that produces more movies than Hollywood. Unfortunately, movies produced in Bollywood rarely– if ever– receive recognition for the foreign films category of the Oscars.
Not only is there a lack of diversity in the acting categories of the Academy Awards, but the absence is also felt in the Best Director nominations. ‘Selma’ director, Ava DuVernay unfortunately did not receive the title of being the first African American female to be nominated for the Academy Awards, despite the fact that ‘Selma’ was nominated for Best Picture.
The 2015 Oscars tried to diversify itself by choosing black actors to present the awards. There was even a performance by John Legend along with an all-black church choir performing ‘Glory,’ the winner of Best Song.

But alas, as Neil Patrick Harris said, “we honor Hollywood’s best and whitest.” The attitude felt during the Academy Awards was not unpleasant even though this was the least diverse Academy Awards since 1998.