By Sheryl Estrada
The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag from 2015 resurfaced on Twitter Thursday following the announcement of 2016 Academy Awards nominations.
In a repeat performance, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Award voters have selected exclusively white nominees. The 20 actors and actresses nominated in the four acting award categories are all white.
Mexican director Alejandro G. Irritu is the only nonwhite person nominated for Best Director for his film, “The Revenant,” which has a total of 12 nominations. However, the five nominees in the Best Director category are all male. Films in the other lead category, Best Picture, have predominantly white casts.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is Black, said in an interview she’s “disappointed” by the lack of diversity in award nominees, most notably for 2015 films that star or are produced or directed by African Americans and have received critical acclaim.
“Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness [of the films nominated],” she said in an interview. “This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board. You are never going to know what is going to appear on the sheet of paper until you see it.”
She recognized that the Academy’s efforts at diversity are not moving quickly enough.
“We have got to speed it up,” she said.
According to a Los Angeles Times survey conducted in 2013, out of more than 6,000 Academy Award voters, 94 percent are white, while 76 percent are male. The average age is 63.
Academy voters have shown they are certainly not interested in broadening their horizons. However, the real push for diversity begins with employment practices and the types of films that are chosen for production and distribution. And there’s no diversity in studio heads.
According to the report “2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script,” from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, top Hollywood film executives are still predominantly male and white: “The corps of CEOs and/or chairs running the 18 studios examined was 94 percent white and 100 percent male.”
Black Actors in Lead Roles Snubbed
Two 2015 films in which Black actors play the lead roles received nominations.
The only nomination the film “Creed” received was for Sylvester Stallone as Best Supporting Actor. Stallone won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor on Sunday.
Michael B. Jordan stars in the movie as Adonis Creed. He is the first person other than Stallone to play a lead in the “Rocky” franchise. Jordan, 28, won the 2016 National Society of Film Critics’ award for Best Actor for his role in “Creed.”
The film has earned more than $100 million in domestic ticket sales as well as widespread critical acclaim.Awards voters were asked to consider Jordan for Best Actor and the film for Best Picture. Tessa Thompson, who had a role in the 2014 film “Selma,” played Bianca, Jordan’s love interest. She was not nominated for an Oscar, either.
“Creed” director Ryan Kyle Coogler, 29, also directed and wrote the 2013 film “Fruitvale Station” based on events surrounding the death of Oscar Grant, a Black man killed in 2009 by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. Jordan plays Grant in the film.
“Straight Outta Compton” is nominated for Best Original Screenplay. But the screenwriters are white. The film chronicles the rise and fall of a hip hop group. Many of the scenes in the movie also address the issue of police brutality in Los Angeles in the late ’80s and ’90s.
It is the most successful music biopic ever, spending three consecutive weeks in the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office. The film’s budget was $28 million. The domestic total box office gross earnings are approximately $161,197,785.
When the film was screened by members of the Academy in August it garnered “a massive crowd and overwhelmingly favorable response,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“[‘Straight Outta Compton’] succeeds as a studio picture while transcending what that usually is,” an Academy member said in August. “It’s a very visceral, poetic, terrific film. It is worthy of some real consideration, particularly I think for acting, directing and even Best Picture but, but, it’s very early in the season, and there are a zillion other pictures coming out.”
Only three Black men have ever been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director: John Singleton for “Boyz n the Hood” (1991), Lee Daniels for “Precious” (2009) and Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave” (2014) and none of them won.
In November, the Academy’s Board Of Governors gave director Spike Lee an Honorary Oscar. A Black woman has never beennominated for Best Director.
Other Oscar snubs this year for Black actors whose performances received critical acclaim include Will Smith, who stars in “Concussion,” Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in “Beasts of No Nation,” andtransgender actress Mya Taylor, star of the indie film “Tangerine.”