With stars such as Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee already planning to boycott this year's Academy Awards ceremony over a lack of diversity among the nominations, this issue has become a hot-button topic in Hollywood. Along with those boycotting, other Hollywood stars such as George Clooney, Viola Davis, Reese Witherspoon and Whoopi Goldberg are calling for serious changes within the Academy. A new report from Entertainment Weekly reveals that the Academy's Board of Governors are set to meet on Tuesday, where the diversity issue will be addressed.
The Tuesday session is part of the Board of Governors' regularly scheduled meetings, but certain board members revealed that the main topic of the meeting will be the diversity controversy. When the nominations for the 88th Annual Academy Awards were announced last Thursday, it marked the second year in a row that no actor or actress of color was nominated. Among the many snubs were African-Americans such as Creed director Ryan Coogler, Beasts of No Nation star Idris Elba, Concussion star Will Smith, along with Straight Outta Compton, a film lead by a young African-American cast which many felt should have been nominated for Best Picture.
The New York Times reported yesterday that the Academy is considering a possible plan to expand the acting categories to 10 nominees, instead of five, while locking in the Best Picture nominees at 10. The Academy changed its rules in 2009, allowing for anywhere between five and 10 Best Picture choices. There have only been 10 nominees twice, in 2010 and 2011, and this year there are eight. Still, one member of the 51-person Board of Governors told Entertainment Weekly that expanding the field would only "devalue" the award itself.
"This is still supposed to be about honoring the best performances. Expanding the acting field to 10 only devalues that honor."
Another Board of Governors member said that, while they have often discussed the possibility of contracting or expanding the Best Picture field, they have never discussed widening the acting categories. New York Times report also adds that Academy President Cheryl Boone-Isaacs and the Academy's chief executive, Dawn Hudson, may call for voting restrictions, which would deny Academy members who haven't been active in the film industry for a lengthy period of time, between 10 and 20 years, the right to vote. This rumored proposal is believed to be met with plenty of resistance.
Of the Academy's 51 Board of Governors, only two are African-American, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs and cinematographer Daryn Okada. The Board of Governors is made up of 34 men and 17 women. We'll keep you posted if any drastic changes are brought about at Tuesday's meeting, so stay tuned for more updates. What are your thoughts about the Oscar diversity controversy?