Six years ago in 2015, April Reign created #OscarsSoWhite.
She is a former lawyer and now a speaker and inclusion consultant.
In January 2020 Reign published a column for Variety, “#OscarsSoWhite Creator: With a Mostly White Academy, What Could We Expect?”
According to Reign in 2015 the Academy membership was 92% white and 75% male. In 2020 the membership was 84% white and 68% male.
In 2021, nine out of the 20 acting nominations went to people of color. It is an honor to be nominated and the honors need to be more racially diverse.
There were notable snubs: In the Best Picture category, only a nomination for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Nothing for Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods;” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” or Regina King’s directorial debut, “One Night in Miami.”
King was also snubbed in the best director category.
Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to be nominated for best director of “Nomadland”.
Chadwick Boseman was posthumously nominated for best actor. One of three men of color.
Andra Day and Viola Davis were nominated for best actress. It was Davis’ fourth nomination, making her the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy.
Black supporting actors grabbed three out the five nominations with both Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield for “Judas and the Black Messiah” and Leslie Odom Jr. for “One Night in Miami.”
The Academy’s diversity program doesn’t begin until 2024 and only the Best Picture nominations must meet a diversity and inclusion standard.
Anita Hill chaired a Hollywood Commission last year which found that white men had a 78% positive view of diversity within the industry vs. 47% of Black women.
Hill said: “[t]hat’s troubling in and of itself. But it’s also troubling because we know that if you look at the leadership in entertainment, that we know that they look like the group of people who believe that we’ve made significant progress. They don’t look like the people who have been marginalized historically.”
And a recent study from the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that the industry is losing $10 billion each year because of inequality.
The authors concluded: “[f]ewer Black-led stories get told, and when they are, these projects have been consistently underfunded and undervalued, despite often earning higher relative returns than other properties.”
The 93rd Academy Awards airs Sunday, April 25 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. on ABC, postponed from February 28 because of the pandemic.
It has been postponed three other times most notably and ironically in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Academy is no Hollywood Foreign Press (Golden Globes) with no Black members, but needs to do better with racial diversity.
USA Today, and Variety.com were sources for this story.