Within minutes of the announcement of Academy Award nominations on Thursday‚ up popped a Twitter hashtag to frame a fresh debate about the lack of diversity in Hollywood: #OscarsSoWhite.
The slate was a reminder of the glacial pace of change in Hollywood’s film industry‚ even after what looked like progress for black actors and filmmakers last year stemming from the best picture winner‚ 12 Years a Slave.
All 20 actors nominated in the four acting categories this year are white and no women are nominated for either best director or screenwriter.
Award watchers called it “the whitest Oscars” in years. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has about 6 000 members‚ who are selected for the quality of their work and recommendations by existing members.
Academy branches‚ such as for actors and directors‚ nominate for their categories‚ and everyone can nominate best picture contenders.
Founder of awards tracker Gold Derby Tom O’Neil, referring to figures from a 2012 LOs Angeles Times study on academy voters, said: “The academy is about 90% white and 70% male and we’re seeing the sad result of that in voting.” Race and gender are not considered‚ although behind the scenes members say there are debates at branch level about how to make membership more diverse.
Selma star David Oyelowo and the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, both failed to garner nominations despite having been nominated for Golden Globes for their parts in the movie about African-American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.
DuVernay made history as the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe best director award.
The film scored a best picture Oscar nomination and academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs – who is the first black female president of the organisation – drew attention to that.
“I am extremely happy to note that Selma is up for best picture. It means the talent that it took to bring Selma to the screen was recognised, and I think that’s important,” Isaac said.
All of this year’s best picture nominees were from male-driven stories with male-dominated casts.
– Reuters‚ Bloomberg