Follow Us on Twitter

Academy President addresses lack of diversity among 2016 Oscar nominees


Story by Jack Foley

CHERYL Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has responded to criticism surrounding the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations within the acting categories.

For the second year in a row, the Academy failed to nominate any black actors to any of the 20 slots in the four acting categories – with Creed‘s Michael B Jordan (pictured) and Beasts of No Nation‘s Idris Elba among the more high profile omissions.

The omissions immediately provoked an angry backlash across social media and prompted Jada Pinkett Smith, the wife of potential nominee Will Smith (for Concussion), and filmmaker Spike Lee, whose credits include this year’s critically-acclaimed Chi-Raq, to suggest a boycott of this year’s ceremony.

In a lengthy statement addressing the issue, however, Isaacs has expressed her own frustrations and disappointment at the state of events and pledged a review of Academy member so that the organisation could start to do better moving forward.

“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees,” she said. “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 make-up 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,” added Boone Isaacs. “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.”

This year’s Oscars take place on February 28 and will be hosted by comedian and filmmaker Chris Rock.

It is not yet known whether Isaac’s response to the issue will prevent any boycott.

Related stories: View the nominations l David Oyelowo lambasts Academy l George Clooney on wider lack of opportunity in Hollywood