During a year where the Academy is being criticized for its lack of diverse nominees, there is one glimmer of hope. Her name is Stephanie Allain, the Black woman co-producing the 92nd Academy Awards, set to air Sunday on ABC.
And no, the fact that she’s a Black woman doesn’t qualify Allain to produce the Oscars, an awards show that’s been routinely checked for its whitewashing of cinema. Instead, it’s her years in the game, having produced many of our favorites, including Hustle & Flow, Something New, Beyond The Lights and Juanita. She’s also executive produced another Netflix hit, Dear White People. (Read: She’s hella qualified.)
At a press conference earlier this week in Hollywood, Allain along with her co-producer Lynette Howell Taylor teased what to expect on Sunday during the awards ceremony, which apparently will include a performance by Janelle Monaé.
“We’re excited to have her,” Allain said.
It should be noted that Whitney Houston’s former musical director, Rickey Minor, will also be on hand during the awards ceremony. So undoubtedly, magic will happen when all five of the Oscar-nominated songs will be performed.
Allain said the two plan to “focus on the films and filmmakers.” And they’re doing it again without a host.
The acclaimed producer said before the nominees were announced, that they had planned to be inclusive when it came to the rest of the show.
“Lynette and I have always embraced diversity and inclusion in our work and we already had plans before the nominations were announced to celebrate that, so I think you’ll see that in the presenters and performers,” Allain said.
And if you’re wondering how the late Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a fatal helicopter crash last month, will be remembered by his Oscars community, Allain told ESSENCE, “what’s appropriate is that he was part of the film community and will be embraced within the ‘In Memorium’ segment.”
The 92nd annual Academy Awards will air Sunday at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.