News Reel & Blog

Diversity Improves at the Oscars

Written by Daniel Kirby on 23rd February 2017

oscars 2017

This year’s Academy Awards ceremony is fast approaching, and the organisers will be glad that the infamous #OscarsSoWhite controversy looks unlikely to arise again this year, after plaguing the event since 2015.

The debate centred primarily around the fact that no actors of colours were nominated either year, but this time around every acting category has recognised a minority actor, including a record six black actors. These include Denzel Washington who received his seventh nomination for “Fences”, and his co-star Viola Davis who has picked up her third nomination.

Diversity at the Oscars has frequently been a contentious issue, including at the ceremony in 1940 when a black actor won the prestigious award for the first time. That year the 12th Academy Awards were held at a banquet in the Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which had a strict no-blacks policy. This made things difficult for Hattie McDaniel who was up for best supporting actress for her part in Gone With the Wind, and indeed the film’s producer David O Selznick had to pull strings in order for her to attend. McDaniel was unable to sit with her fellow actors at the event, but in a segregated area at the back of the room. McDaniel did go on to win the award, and gave an emotional and heartfelt acceptance speech, but it would be another 24 years until the achievement was repeated.

Much of the blame for the previous ‘whitewashing’ of the awards categories was levelled at the demographic of the voting members, leading the Academy to announce several initiatives to diversify its membership, adding 683 new members comprised of 46 percent women and 41 percent people of colour.

The controversy has died down as a result, however there is still scepticism about whether this year represents real change. It has been variously suggested that whilst the crop of nominees is ‘more black’, other marginalised groups remain underrepresented, and others have suggested that one year of increased diversity does not make up for a long history of discrimination. Nevertheless there is a highly positive attitude surrounding  this year’s ceremony and we’re looking forward to a successful and exciting event!

FIND US ELSEWHERE

;