Oscars 2016: Academy promises more diversity after boycott threats

Oscars/Youtube

The films and stars vying for a chance to be Oscar's date.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has acknowledged it needs to do more to promote diversity.

The admission comes in the wakes of director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith saying they would boycott next month's Academy Awards ceremony because black actors were shut out of nominations.

The list of Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for a second consecutive year, leading to the revival of the Twitter hashtag,  #OscarsSoWhite,  that emerged in 2015.

The list of Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for a second consecutive year.
Luke MacGregor/Reuters

The list of Oscar acting nominees announced on Thursday lacked black performers for a second consecutive year.

Lee, the director of Do the Right Thing and 2015's Chi-Raq, said he had timed his announcement with the national holiday commemorating slain civil rights leader the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

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We must stand in our power.

Posted by Jada Pinkett Smith on Monday, 18 January 2016

At the Oscars...people of color are always welcomed to give out awards...even entertain, but we are rarely recognized...

Posted by Jada Pinkett Smith on Saturday, 16 January 2016


"How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? And let's not even get into the other branches," Lee wrote under the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag.

"40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can't act?!" said Lee, who was awarded an honorary Oscar in November.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said while the Academy, which awards the Oscars, had made changes in recent years to drive diversity, "the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more".

Director Spike Lee
Reuters

Director Spike Lee

Isaacs, who is African-American, called for "big changes", saying she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion" in this year's crop of nominees.

"In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity," Isaacs said.

Lee said his decision to stay away from the ceremony was meant as no disrespect to Oscars host Chris Rock and producer Reginald Hudlin, both of whom are black, or to AMPAS officials.

Pinkett Smith, who appeared in two Matrix movies, also said she would skip the February 28 ceremony.

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"Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream," she said in a video on Facebook.

Her husband Will Smith, who stars in the football injury drama Concussion, and Idris Elba, who portrayed an African warlord in Beasts of No Nation, were among black actors snubbed this year.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES UK/YouTube

Straight Outta Compton recalls the rise of the music-combo N.W.A

The black cast and director of hip hop biopic Straight Outta Compton were also left out.

Straight Outta Compton producer Will Packer called 2016's nominations "embarrassing" 

His bio-pic, about rap group NWA, was a critical and box office success.  However the film received only one nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category for screenwriters Jon Herman and Andrea Berloff - both of whom are white.

I want to congratulate all of the Academy Award nominees. These people are quite deserving of being recognized as the...

Posted by Will Packer on Friday, January 15, 2016

Packer slammed the Academy for its lack of diversity and made a wider call for things to change for black actors and actresses.

"The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it's a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people," Packer wrote.

"I repeat - it's embarrassing. It's unfair to the performers of colour who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line and delivered with their projects this year."

Netflix/YouTube

Beasts of No Nation begins streaming on Netflix on October 16.

In its 88 year history, 94 per cent of  Oscar nominees have been white, 77 per cent are male, and they have an average age of 61.

Black director Spike Lee, recipient of an honorary Oscar for 2016, announced he and his wife would not be attending this year's ceremony.

"My wife, Mrs Tonya Lewis Lee and I will not be attending the Oscar ceremony this coming February," the director wrote.

"We cannot support it and mean no disrespect to my friends, host Chris Rock and producer Reggie Hudlin, president Isaacs and the Academy. But, how is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?"

"And let's not even get into the other branches. 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can't act?! WTF!!" he wrote.

The boycott statements came after comedy Ride Along 2, starring black actors Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, pushed Star Wars: The Force Awakens from its position atop the weekend box office.

 - Reuters

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