Last Thursday the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences once again voted in an all-white roster of acting nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards, a move that has seen the organisation come under several days of sustained and increasing backlash against it.
Now, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs hasreleased a statement addressing the controversy and detailed efforts to help fix the issue:
“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.”
The statement comes following a posting earlier that day by Spike Lee and the day before by actress Jada Pinkett Smith calling for a boycott of the Oscars because of the lack of inclusion and in spite of strong acclaimed performances by the likes of Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson in “Creed,” Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation,” and Will Smith in “Concussion”. The 88th Academy Awards will take place on February 28th on ABC.
This isn’t merely a problem for AMPAS though. The aforementioned Idris Elba has criticized the lack of diversity on British television and among those working in the U.K. TV industry. The actor gave a half-hour speech delivered at the U.K. Parliament in London yesterday, here’s an excerpt:
“There’s a disconnect between the real world and TV world. People in the TV world often aren’t the same as people in the real world. And there’s an even bigger gap between people who make TV, and people who watch TV. The TV world helps shape the real world. It’s also a window on our world. But when we look out the window, none of us live in Downton Abbey.
When you don’t reflect the real world, too much talent is trashed. Talent is everywhere, opportunity isn’t. And talent can’t reach opportunity. Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin color; it’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and – most important of all, as far as I’m concerned – diversity of thought.”
He then went on to implore the TV and film industries to “think outside the box, and to get outside the box.”