Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) has released a statement regarding the lack of diversity among this years crop of Oscar nominees. For two years now, the acting nominees have not included one person of color in the race, prompting outrage, debate and the infamous #OscarSoWhite backlash. Isaacs, in her statement addresses the frustration and disappointment for the lack of minorities honored on Hollywood’s toniest night, but comments that the Academy is making (and has made) continued efforts to diversify their membership in recent years.
This years’ lily-white Oscar line-up has even caused prominent industry players like Spike Lee (recipient of a 2015 Honorary Oscar and who directed the acclaimed and Academy-dismissed film Chi-Raq) and Jada Pinkett Smith (Magic Mike XXL) to potentially lead boycotts of the upcoming Academy Awards telecast. Aside from Chi-Raq, other films featuring people of color in prominent roles to be excluded from this years’ nominations include Creed (a part from Sylvester Stallone’s nomination), Straight Outta Compton (though the films’ white screenwriters were acknowledged) and Beasts of No Nation (despite Idris Elba earning SAG, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations for his performance).
Read the full statement below:
I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.
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. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.
This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. 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.