A year ago, the biggest story at the Academy Awards was the clear lack of diversity among award nominees. Two years running, no people of color were nominated in any of the acting categories and were a rarity in the Best Director category. After multiple efforts to help bolster diversity in Hollywood, history has been made.
For the first time ever, a Black actor is nominated in every acting category.
The nominees are Denzel Washington (Best Actor, Fences), Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Moonlight), Ruth Negga (Best Actress, Loving), Viola Davis (Best Supporting Actress, Fences), Naomie Harris (Best Supporting Actress, Moonlight) and Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress, Hidden Figures).
A major part in this record-breaking year is likely the major support of films with mostly-Black casts that were released to large success last year, such as Fences, Hidden Figures and Moonlight.
According to Entertainment Tonight, Davis, Harris and and Spencer’s nominations are the first time multiple Black people have been in one category since 1985 when Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery were both recognized for their work in The Color Purple.
“I would love to see people of color continue to get opportunities and have opportunities to do projects that are action blockbusters as well as being a part of projects that are art house and indie or projects that in some way find themselves around and in the conversation every awards season,” Mahershala Ali said. “We want to exist in all platforms and we want to see diversity and see people being included on every level. I hope that this is a real beginning for that.”
While seeing all of these Black actors is absolutely a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address all of the issues raised during the #OscarsSoWhite campaign that has been made popular in the past.
The problem with the Academy Awards wasn’t only that there weren’t any black faces. It was that there were only white faces, mostly leaving out numerous people of color.
“One year does not make up for over 80 years of underrepresentation of all genders, sexual orientations, races, abilities and First Nation status,”April Reign, who created the hashtag and is the managing editor of BrowadwayBlack.com told The Los Angeles Times. “#OscarsSoWhite is about the inclusion of all marginalized communities, both in front of and behind the camera, throughout the entertainment industry.”
Fortunately, this year’s nominees show that the Academy is at least willing to try to move forward to have their awards reflect the world we live in today. We’ve just got a long way to go to make that truly show.
Photo Courtesy: Wiki Commons