Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone-Isaacs is speaking out about the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.
Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy, told the Associated Press she is inspired to accelerate the Academy’s push for more diversity.
“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” she said. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”
This was the first time in 20 years that no person of color was nominated in the acting categories. There was also a glaring omission of women in the writing and directing categories.
The public has been incredibly vocal about the apparent white-washing of the nominations. In the hours following the announcement of nominees on Thursday, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag started trending on Twitter, where people pointed out the importance of race and gender diversity in the film industry.
Boone-Isaacs repeatedly stressed that the Academy Awards are competitive and said she’s proud of all of the nominees, all of whom deserve the recognition. She also emphasized the fact that the civil rights film, Selma, did in fact receive a nomination although the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, was overlooked.
“What is important not to lose sight of is that Selma, which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people,” Boone Isaacs said.
Boone-Isaacs acknowledged that diversity is an important factor in filmmaking and stressed that the Academy’s 17 branches would make diversity outreach a top priority.
“This is a membership organization, so we are all involved in this discussion and moving the subject of diversity forward,” she said. “It’s very important for us to continue to make strides to increase our membership and the recognition of talent. It matters that we pay attention to, again, the diversity of voice and opinion and experience, and that it doesn’t slide, it doesn’t slide anywhere except for forward.”