Ironically, the Oscars were announced this morning on the actual birthday of the great civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is ironic because this year’s Oscar nominees will be the whitest Oscars since 1998. I guess the civil rights movement missed Hollywood this year.
Save two nominations for Selma, (Best Picture and Best Original Song) people of color were shut out of all of the other categories. Particularly, the top categories for Best Actor, Actress and Director. This kind of “white out” has not happened in 17 years. (This Will Be the Whitest Oscars Since 1998)
Although Selma was not the only major snub, it is the one that strikes the loudest cord for me. I know some will point to the fact that Selma did not provide screeners to Academy members. But then, explain to me the Best Picture nomination. And, how does a movie receive a Best Picture nomination and the only other great thing about it was it’s original song that comes in the closing credits.
In a previous post, I tried to explain why I thought Selma was not robbed at the Golden Globes. Well, NOW we have something to complain about because David Oyelowo’s performance as the slain leader is beyond worthy of a nomination. As well, Ava Duvernay’s skillful and elegant crafting of the story is deserving of a Best Director nod.
The Oscar nominations just underscore the need for more diverse representation of African-Americans and other minorities in the current landscape of filmmaking. Our hopes and dreams should not hinge on one or two Great Black Hope(fuls) each year. There are too many talented African-American filmmakers out there with great stories to tell for this to even be an issue.
Yet, it is the same prevailing issue that African-Americans faced when Dr. King was marching in Selma – access. Black filmmakers and story tellers lack the access to the big studios, financing and marketing that it requires to be even considered an Oscar contender.
With that said, I am optimistic that a change is gone come. Super agent Charles King announced earlier this year a new, well-funded initiative to bring more diversity to Hollywood Charles King’s New Venture. BET founder, Bob Johnson’s new company RLJ Entertainment is also making efforts to do the same.
Moreover, the leaked Sony e-mails late last year shined a bright light on what really goes on behind closed studio doors. It’s no wonder that it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” than for an African-American film to get a major studio green light in Hollywood. Sony has created a diversity committee to address these issues. Vivica A. Fox Leads Sony Diversity Committee and we can only hope this is not just a cosmetic stunt to repair its much damaged public reputation.
I’m saddened that Selma and its filmmakers were not properly recognized. However, I am turning my energy into action by not only creating my own content, but by supporting other African-American filmmakers and creators any chance I get. If today wasn’t further proof that we don’t have a choice, but to support and uplift our own then, I don’t know what is. Clearly, no one else is going to do it.
Looking for to the NAACP Image Awards and the multiple nominations and WINS for Selma. It is truly a deserving and brilliantly done film. And, I’m looking forward to seeing more and more films with people of color in the lead and at the helm being made (and being recognized by the Academy).
Here is a Full List of Nominees