Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, spoke with the AP last night about criticism over the lack of diversity among this year's Oscar nominees. The nominations, announced on Thursday, were more white and more male than they had been in previous years. All twenty of this year's acting nominees are white and no women were nominated in the directing or writing categories. In response, #OscarsSoWhite began trending on Twitter almost immediately after the nominations.
"In the last two years, we've made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members," Boone Isaacs told the AP. "And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories."
The AP reports:
Boone Isaacs declined to address whether she and the academy were embarrassed by the slate of white Oscar nominees, instead insisting that she's proud of the nominees, all of whom deserved recognition.
She explained that while each branch comes up with its own criteria for excellence and each nominates its colleagues, all voting is individual and confidential.
For instance, only directors can suggest best director nominees and only actors can nominate actors. But the entire academy membership can submit suggestions for best picture.
"There is not one central body or group of people that sit around the table and come up with nominations," she said. "It really is a peer-to-peer process."
Boone Issacs did not respond directly to suggestions that Ava DuVernay and her film Selma's lack of nominations were the result of racial bias. Rather she stressed the competitive nature of the nomination process, though conceded that "diversity needs to be mandatory in both story and storyteller."
Given how the Academy nominations work, diversity might be a long time coming. In 2012 the LA Times found that Oscar voters were 94% white and 77% male with the average age of 62. Voters currently have no requirement to retire.
Photo via Rodolfo Arpia/Shutterstock.