DIVERSITY AT THE 2016 ACADEMY AWARDS

oscarsDIVERSITY AT THE 2016 ACADEMY AWARDS

BY: ALIYA JACKSON

I was taught, “Closed mouths don’t get fed,” and Jada Pickett-Smith just opened the doors to a situation that has been overlooked for decades. Regardless if she wasn’t going to the Oscars, we have to ask ourselves this very question, “If the Academy reflects everyone… why aren’t minorities getting more awards?” Now that an African American woman has taken her throne at the Academy, there’s a matter in question? Sorry to say, the problem didn’t start with the new President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs. As a public relation executive and former head of publicity at Paramount Pictures, Isaacs stepped into a dilemma where her predecessors (all Caucasians) should have acknowledged this diversity issue a long time ago. Let’s look at the bigger picture…

First, minorities had to develop specialized awards to honor and acknowledge their very own, such as the Alma Awards, The Red Nation Film Festival and Awards Show, Annual American Indian Film Festival, Goya Awards, Soultrain Awards and BET Awards.

Second, according to the new study titled “Not Quite a Breakthrough: The Oscars and Actors of Color, (2002-2012), sponsored by the Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley School of Law and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, there are no Latins, Asians or Native Americans for the last decade.

Third, African Americans may have gotten recognition over their minority counterparts, but still lack to persevere over Caucasian nominees.

Finally, Hattie McDaniel, was the first African American to ever to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, but she had to play a maid in “Gone with the Wind” in 1939. Then in 2012, Halle Berry won Best Lead Actress in Marc Foster’s “Monster Ball,” but Berry’s role was represented as a poor woman from the South, named Leticia, who lived in the ghetto. The research shows that 44 African Americans were nominated for acting but only 12 won an Academy Award out of 88 years this organization been around.

It’s the year 2016 and we still have blemishes over color. So who’s fault is it? I can assure you every answer will be divergent. In my opinion, I would have to say we are all accountable. We can’t keep viewing minorities in the light of addiction, sex, mental illness or corruption; that is so far fetched. Recognize them as they should be…hire minorities because of a better understanding of the culture. Unfortunately, in the entertainment world, drama sells. There are plenty of amazing filmmakers to be discovered. No one can say, “there aren’t any because minorities aren’t qualified.” Can it be the powers-that-be aren’t or don’t want to look? In this world, unknown film makers (from the writer to actor) have to be strategic because it’s hard to get your foot in the door if representation isn’t obtained.

So I say to my fellow filmmakers – stay focused, step outside the box, develop “thick skin,” keep learning and have positive people around. Getting projects seen is just the icing on the cake, but creating is the journey that will keep you moving forward. Is it safe to say change has materialized within the Academy? Yes, because as of Thursday, Jan 21, 2016, every board member will now only serve a 3-year term (9 years) instead of a lifetime. As a minority myself, I commend you. Let’s take a stand because it’s just a matter of time “our” films will be noticed at the OSCARS.

African Americans – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

Latinos – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Latin_American_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

Asians – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asian_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

India – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees_from_India

French – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_French_Academy_Award_winners_and_nominees

African Americans Latins Best Actor – 4 winners and 16 nominees 1 winner and 4 nominees Best Actress – 1 winner and 9 nominees 0 winners and 3 nominees Best Actor Supporting Role – 1 winners and 13 nominees 3 winners and 3 nominees Best Actress Supporting Role – 6 winners and 13 nominees 2 winners and 4 nominees Best Cinematography – 1 nominee 4 winners and 9 nominees Best Art Direction – 5 winners and 9 nominees Best Costume – 0 winners and 4 nominees Best Makeup – 1 winner and 1 nominee Best Director – 0 winners and 3 nominees 2 winners and 3 nominees Best Documentary Feature – 1 winner and 3 nominees 0 winners and 7 nominees Best Documentary Short Subject – 1 winner and 1 nominee 1 winner and 3 nominees Best Editing – 1 nominee 1 winner and 2 nominees Best Original Score – 2 winners and 6 nominees 3 winners and 7 nominees Best Foreign Language – 2 winners and 23 nominees Best Animated Feature – 0 winners and 1 nominee Best Original Song – 6 winners and 13 nominees 1 winner and 4 nominees Best Picture – 1 winner and 5 nominees 1 winner and 3 nominees Best Short Film (Live Action) – 2 nominees 2 winners and 2 nominees Best Animated Short Film – 0 winners and 1 nominee Best Sound Mixing – 4 winners and 5 nominees 0 winners and 2 nominees Best Sound Editing – 0 winners and 1 nominee Best Visual Effects – 0 winners and 3 nominees Best Writer (Adapted Screenplay) – 2 winners & nominees 0 winners and 3 nominees Best Writer (Original Screenplay) – 3 nominees 1 winner and 4 nominees

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