Some things haven’t changed.
We’ve all been talking about the lack of diversity at the Oscars this year. And last. And too many years before that. We can all agree Hollywood’s diversity problem isn’t new. Nor does it only begin and end with the Oscars. During an appearance on Good Morning America this morning, Spike Lee, who has said he won’t be attending the ceremony, shared more of his thoughts on the cracks in the system.
“It goes further than the Academy Awards,” he said. “It has to go back to the gatekeepers. The people who have the green-light vote. We’re not in the room. The executives, when they have these green-light meetings quarterly where they look at the scripts, they look who’s in it and they decide what we’re making and what we’re not making.”
Whoopi Goldberg also had similar thoughts on The View.
“Let me tell you what the problem is—It’s not that the people doing the nominating are too white,” she said. “The problem is the people who can be helping to make movies that have Blacks and Latinos and women and all that – that money doesn’t come to you because the idea is that there is no place for Black movies.”
Jada Pinkett Smith, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, and even George Clooney, are all publicly bemoaning the fact that #OscarsSoWhite again. And it’s telling that Eddie Murphy was thinking the same thing back in 1988.
Murphy was asked to present at the Oscars in 1988. Before he could present, he had a few words for the Academy. He began by sharing how he had told his manager, who was White, that he wasn’t interested in attending. “I said I’m not going because they haven’t recognized Black people in the motion picture industry,” he said.
Murphy joked that Black actors and actresses win an Oscar about every 20 years. “We ain’t due for one until about 2004,” he said.
“I just want you to know, I’mma give this award, but Black people will not ride the caboose of society, and we will not bring up the rear anymore, and I want you to recognize us.”
In 2007 Murphy was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Dreamgirls.
Nearly thirty years later, we’re still having the same conversation. Not a single person of color was nominated in top categories such as Best Actor or Actress and Best Supporting Actor or Actress.