After expressing frustration over this year’s all white Oscar nominees, the Academy’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is making moves to try to diversify its membership.
Isaacs released a statement on Monday night, repeating her previous acknowledgement of the Oscars’ fuck-up. She stated again that she’s “heartbroken and frustrated” and says the Academy has to be better at being more inclusive. “We need to do more, and better and more quickly,” she writes. “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 plan moving forward is to review the Academy’s recruitment practices and then actively create a membership that better represents Hollywood’s diverse pool of talent. Isaacs’ full statement:
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.
While Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are calling for a boycott of the Oscars, David Oyelowo repeated Isaacs’ call for diversity at the King Legacy Awards on Monday, where he presented Isaacs with the Rosa Parks Humanitarian Award.
“The Academy has a problem,” he said, referencing a conversation he had with Isaacs last year after the Oscars So White campaign of 2015. “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.”
Addressing the Academy directly, Oyelowo, like Isaacs, also pressed for urgency.
“This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation,” he said. “The Academy is an institution in which they all say radical and timely change cannot happen quickly. It better happen quickly. The law of this country can change in a matter of months. It better come on. The Oscars is on February 28. Cheryl needs us to pray that by that date, change is going to come.”
Oyelowo also urged everyone in the room to support Isaacs’ diversity mission. “We cannot afford to get bitter, we cannot afford to get negative,” he said. “But we must make our voice heard.”
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