On Martin Luther King Day, Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith separately announced that they would be boycotting this year’s Academy Awards over the lack of diversity amongst nominees. For the second year in a row, not a single African-American actor or director of color was nominated. In response, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs has issued a statement of apology and also promised change going forward.
Isaacs, an African-American herself, said she was “both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion.” She went on to promise “dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.” Over the last four years, the Academy has attempted to diversify its membership via a variety of policies, but Isaacs wrote that “the change is not coming as fast as we would like.” She concluded by saying the new “mandate” for the group would be to diversify its membership in all areas of “gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”
Taking place February 28th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California, the 88th Oscars will be hosted by comedian Chris Rock. Considering all the #OscarSoWhite controversy arising from yet another year without a minority actor, actress, or director being nominated, the show might be worth watching to see what Rock has to say as much as it is to see who won.
Read Isaacs’ full statement below.
“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s 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 big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup 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. 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.”