The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or just the Academy). After it was revealed that no people of color, except for Revenant director Alejandro González Iñárritu, had been nominated for the “Big 5” awards at this year’s Oscars, the Hollywood institution was hit with accusations of racism. Now, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee have decided to boycott the 2016 Oscars and are calling on others to do the same.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, herself a woman of color, says despite this year’s nomination results, she is determined to make the Oscars more diverse.
“While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” she wrote in an official statement on this year’s list of nominees. “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”
This past summer, Isaacs extended invitations for Academy membership to a record 322 people, including David Oyelowo (Selma), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond The Lights), Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer), and Justin Lin (Fast and Furious). But even with this push for diversity, the Academy remains overwhelmingly white and overwhelming male.
Isaacs hopes to fix this by conducting a total review of the Academy’s recruitment practices. She says the move is similar to the Academy’s decision in the 1960s and 1970s to recruit younger members to keep its membership vital. Now, the institution must turn its eye toward making its membership more diverse.
“As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years, but the change is not coming as fast as we would like,” she continues. “In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.”