Last week, the nominations were announced for the 88th Annual Academy Awards, and, as is the case in most years, many awards-season favorites were not included. 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. This lead to director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith to boycott the Oscar ceremony on Sunday, February 28. Last night, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs released a statement on the Academy Twitter page, where she expressed her frustration over the lack of diversity among the nominees. Here's what she had to say below.
"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."
As the Academy president, an African-American woman, stated, their problem with diversity is not a new one. In 2012, The Los Angeles Times conducted a study that claimed 94% of the Academy voters were white, with an average age of 62. The study also concluded that all of the Academy's 15 major branches had a majority of white voters, with some branches upwards of 90%. How the Academy plans on solving its diversity issue remains to be seen, but another report reveals that another prominent African-American actor took issue with the "all-white" Oscar ballot.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that actor David Oyelowo spoke at an event last night honoring Cheryl Boone-Isaacs, where he went off-script to address the Academy's diversity problem. The actor, who many feel was unjustly snubbed from getting an Oscar nomination for Selma last year, revealed that Cheryl Boone-Isaacs had a private conversation with him after he didn't receive a nomination last year, calling the lack of African-American nominees for two years in a row "unforgivable." Here's part of his statement from last night's event.
"The Academy has a problem. It's a problem that needs to be solved. A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then. We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable."
It remains to be seen how this controversy will effect the awards ceremony telecast, which takes place Sunday, February 28, hosted by Chris Rock. We haven't heard yet if any other prominent African-American filmmakers or actors plan on boycotting this year's ceremony alongside Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, but we'll keep you posted with any updates. What do you think about the Academy's lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations? Chime in with your thoughts below.