The nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards are….drum roll…..NO ONE OF COLOR:
Top African-American actors and directors choose not to attend, with a stifling stance. They are boycotting the Oscars. Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee made the announcements on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday that they are not attending and they used social media platforms to get the message out. Jada recorded a video, https://www.facebook.com/jada/videos/10153983404106320/, after speaking out on Twitter, as well, days before and Spike used Instagram. They argue that there are many qualified actors and actresses that are deserving of getting a nod and there are many: Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elaba, Benico del Toro, Samuel L. Jackson, and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. It begs the question, “why weren’t any nominated?”
I don’t consider myself a movie expert, but I saw 2 movies that had African Americans as lead actors, Creed and Straight Outta Compton, and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed both of them, worthy of a nomination. Michael B. Jordan is such a seasoned actor and the story of Straight Outta Compton was so compelling. I didn’t see any of the movies that included any of the lead acting nominations, only because most of the movies I see are kid/teenage movies because I have a 14 year old daughter. She and I saw Creed in the movie theater together (I was able to sneak Straight Outta Compton in while she was sleeping during the latest snowstorm). Did Sylvester Stallone do a phenomenal job as a Supporting Actor? Absolutely! He certainly deserved a nod for Supporting Actor but why wasn’t Michael B. Jordan nominated for the lead role? He morphed himself into the character and he was great on all levels. I could feel his pain and I felt compassion for him, the character. It was acting at its best. It was a Rocky movie, but not just another Rocky movie.
It’s not that diverse talent is lacking, it is overlooked and Hollywood is not turning a blind eye to it, as this is the second year in a row that no African Americans were nominated for awards. To quote Tyrese Gibson from an interview with People Magazine,” This is not us saying we’re against the Oscars because we’re gonna combat racism. We’re just saying, ’Yo, this is not cool.’ You can’t be doing this in 2016 and act is if no one is gonna notice.” It is not just African Americans who are upset with the nominations, George Clooney stated in an interview with Variety, “We need to get better with this.”
As the result of the backlash, the president of the Academy Awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African American, has responded by publically apologizing for the lack of diversity. She said she is ready to embrace, “any and all ways we can increase the conversation about storytelling and how to bring more diverse voices in storytelling into the marketplace.” According to Fox News, the Academy has taken action by adding 3 new governing board seats to be filled immediately. I take that to mean that they will be filled by people of color and/or women. Another action Fox News reported, is to change the voting rights by not allowing all active members to have lifetime voting rights. They are able to vote only for a period of 10 years.
Black Hollywood has been heard loud and clear. I believe that this is a start for more inclusion and 2017 could have been the 3rd year in a row with no diversity if social media was not utilized to raise immediate attention to this cause. I cracked up at the Saturday Night Live skit and I am not boycotting the Academy Awards. I don’t watch faithfully, but I am eagerly waiting to see what Chris Rock has to say. News stations are reporting that he changed his monologue to address the lack of diversity. It is comforting to see that African Americans have a voice and the power of social media quickly got the message to where it belongs, the 88th Academy Awards leaders.