The Oscars, Trying Hard Not to Be So White, Adds Kerry Washington as a Presenter

Illustration for article titled The Oscars, Trying Hard Not to Be So White, Adds Kerry Washington as a Presenter

Have ya heard that the Oscars have a diversity problem? In one of multiple subtle and not so subtle moves to remind the public that the Academy does actually know that people of color exist, they’ve added some oh so diverse new presenters to the ceremony.


In addition to composer Quincy Jones and and South Korean film star Byung-hun Lee, the the second batch of Oscar presenters includes Kerry Washington and Priyanka Chopra, who both star in television shows on ABC, the network airing the awards. The Academy announced the new names today, a list that also includes Olivia Munn.

They join Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Hart, Whoopi Goldberg, the Weeknd and Pharrell Williams as the group of non-white people actually stepping on the stage on February 28th who are not named Chris Rock. Of course, all of these presenters are smart, relevant additions—a few are even Oscar nominees and winners—but it’s also hard not to see this at an attempt to “make up” for the lack of diversity in the actual nominees.

In a way, it’s unfortunate. Every single one of these presenters makes sense as an inclusion to the show, but when you have so little diversity in the first place, it’s going to feel like pandering to some degree. But, on the plus side, Kerry Washington and Priyanka Chopra are going to get dressed up and put on gowns, which is great news for people with eyes, so I’m going to count this as a win.

In other attempts to save this year’s Oscars, publicists are scrambling to make sure their clients don’t accidentally say anything racist on the red carpet. After a truly embarrassing past couple weeks for a number of celebrities who said some very dumb things, I can’t say I blame them. Via Page Six:

The frazzled flacks are coaching clients behind the scenes at the Sundance Film Festival on how to answer often-asked media questions.

“Reps are having emergency meetings with their stars to go over how to answer these questions,” says an insider. One wrong word can cause an uproar.

This is going to be fun.

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Image via Charley Gallay/Getty.


Kara Brown