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Getting to the bottom of Hollywood’s diversity problem

Oscars statuettes
Oscars statuettes
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As the 87th Academy Awards arrives on February 22, the Academy has come under fire after releasing its list of nominations yesterday. The topic of controversy: diversity.

Diversity, or rather a lack thereof, is not a new issue for Hollywood - just two years ago, the same controversy came up as the LA Times found that Oscar voters were overwhelmingly male. But in the year after “12 Years A Slave” won the Academy Award for Best Film, this time around the nominations preclude any such victory. For example, all 20 nominations for lead and supporting actors are Caucasian; every director and screenwriter is male; and director Ava DuVernay of “Selma” did not get a mention (although the film is nominated for Best Film). While last year’s Oscars controversy was people voting for “12 Years A Slave” even if they hadn’t seen it, bringing up issues of one should vote for something just because it is “the right thing to do,” the pendulum seems to have swung back towards a dearth of diversity.

Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and is also its first African-American leader disagreed yesterday when asked if there was an issue with diversity, stating, “Not at all. Not at all...The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it’s being discussed.”

Do you think the Academy and its members have a problem with diversity? Is this a larger issue with Hollywood and the film industry? How can people of diverse backgrounds break new ground in film?


Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC and Alt Film Guide

Warrington Hudlin, president of the black filmmaker foundation and the producer of the films "House Party," "Boomerang," and "Bebe Kids"