Is Hollywood Starting to Care About Its Lack of Diversity?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has promised some changes.
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has promised some changes.
President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs. (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Last week, we wrote about Hollywood not paying attention to the data and criticism centered on the industry's lack of diversity. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had just announced this year's Oscars nominations, which included a single non-white nominee in the acting and directing categories. With an increasingly diverse movie-going audience, Hollywood is shooting itself in the foot by continually rewarding non-diverse movies, we reported. But the non-diverse heads of studios apparently hadn't noticed.

This week, we are pleased to report some response in Tinseltown after all.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced a five-year initiative aimed at diversifying the industry in terms of "age, gender, race, national origin, and point of view," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Academy is also discussing reforming the Oscars nomination process, the New York Times found. Possible alterations include increasing the number of best picture and actor nominees and changing how Academy members are recruited. Some insiders have suggested allowing Academy members to vote for the Oscars only if they've been recently active in the industry, which would cut out older Academy members whose tastes may not align with newer, more diverse projects. However, the Times reports such a move would "inevitably meet fierce resistance," and probably won't happen soon.

Meanwhile, the new announcement brought more evidence that some industry members really aren't getting the message. "To imply that [the homogeny of the Oscar nominees] is because all of us are racists is extremely offensive," actress and Academy member Penelope Ann Miller told the Hollywood Reporter. "I don't want to be lumped into a category of being a racist because I'm certainly not and because I support and benefit from the talent of black people in this business. It was just an incredibly competitive year." Miller's comments suggest she doesn't see systemic problems with the Oscars nomination process, although the data implies otherwise.

We're eager to see where this discussion goes, and whether the Academy will truly make effective changes.  

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