By Amanda DeSilva
Since last year’s #Oscarssowhite hashtag took over, the Academy has changed direction. This year’s Oscar’s nominees are more diverse than ever and for the first time in the last three years, an actor of color has been nominated in each of the top four acting categories.
#Oscarssowhite originated in 2015 by activist April Reign, when the nominees for the 87th Academy Awards ceremony was released, depicting all white acting nominations. The following year had been marked as the second year in a row in which there was little to no racial diversity amongst nominees in major categories. The viral hashtag was a representation of the racial divide within Hollywood and brought forth the attention of many.
“ I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this years 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 a change.” said President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, in response to #oscarssowhite.
Isaacs set the tone for change which the Academy took its first steps to initiate. This year’s nominees showcased a multicultural wave of talent both in front of and off camera. A record of six black actors were nominated in leading categories, in which two took home awards and seven non white actors received nominations as well.
It was the first year in which black actors were nominated in every acting category. The first year in which we have had three black nominees in a major acting category (Best Supporting Actress). Joi Mcmillon became the first black woman to be nominated in the editing category for her work in ‘Moonlight’. Mahershala Ali became the first muslim actor to win an Oscar. Dev Patel became the first indian actor to be nominated in 13 years for his role in ‘Lion’. ‘Moonlight’ writer and director, Barry Jenkins hit the oscar trifecta being the first black man to be nominated for Best Direction, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture; in which he took home two out of the three awards.
“We have to understand that we’re all part of the narrative. All of the stories deserve to be told. We’re not ‘The Brady Bunch’ anymore. We’re Black-ish. We’re Fresh off the Boat. We’re Jane the Virgin, we’re Stranger Things. We’re a hodgepodge of cultures and races and sexes and sexualities.” said Viola Davis in her moving speech during this years Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.
The 89th Academy Awards showcased a drive to put an end to the racial divide within Hollywood. New Academy rules have been implemented to add a greater diversity of voters in terms of ethnicity, gender, and age in an effort to tackle #oscarssowhite, in hopes of it never returning.