Lupita Nyong’o, the last black actress to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for her role in 12 Years A Slave, is one of the latest entertainers to speak out about the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations. “The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in our modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today,” she says in her Instagram post.
This is the second year in a row that all the Academy nominees for the acting categories have been white.
But Nyong’o isn’t the only one speaking out. Many others in the entertainment industry have been vocal in acknowledging the fine work persons of color have done this year and calling out the structural barriers within the industry.
George Clooney told Variety that African Americans “aren’t represented well enough” in the film industry.
“I think racism has a lot to do with it,” Director Steve McQueen told the BBC, noting that films with black actors have been doing well in the box office.
Selma’s David Oyelowo called the Academy’s actions in choosing all white actors for the second year in a row, “unforgiveable.”
On Tuesday, Idris Elba delivered a 32 minute speech to British Parliament on diversity in media. “I’m here to talk about diversity,” started Elba. “Diversity in the modern world is more than just skin color—It’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, social background, and - most important of all, as far as I’m concerned – diversity of thought. Because if you have genuine diversity of thought among people making TV & film, then you won’t accidentally shut out any of the groups I just mentioned.”
On Martin Luther King Day, Jada Pinkett-Smith released a video saying she and husband Will Smith would not attend, and calling for others to join their Oscar boycott. Some expected Smith to get an acting nod for his role in Concussion.
"Maybe it's time we pull back our resources and we put them back into our communities, and we make programs for ourselves that acknowledge us in ways that we see fit, that are just as good as the so-called mainstream," she says in her two minute video that she posted on Facebook.
Not everybody was thrilled with Jada’s message for a boycott. Among those who weren’t enthused by Jada was Janet Hubert aka (The original) Aunt Viv from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Hubert took to Facebook to call out Jada on her motives.
She starts off by calling Jada “Miss Thing” and questions whether her man, Will Smith, has “a mouth with which to speak?”
Hubert continues on saying that this issue isn’t “that deep” and there other things going on in world that are more serious:
“People are dying. Our boys are being shot left and right. People are hungry. People are starving. People are trying to pay bills. And you're talking about some [expletive] actors and Oscars [...] And here's the other thing, for you to ask other actors, and other blacktresses and black actors, to jeopardize their career and their standing in a town that you know damn well, you don't do that. And here's the other thing—they don't care. They don't care! And I find it ironic that somebody who has made their living and made millions and millions of dollars from the very people you're talking about boycotting, just because you didn't get a nomination, just because you didn't win."
It’s known that the former co-stars, Janet Hubert and Will Smith, don’t have the best relationship, which Hubert acknowledges in the video.
She goes on to comment about his recent filmography and calls him undeserving of his nominations. “Here you are, you've had a few flops and you know there are those out there who really deserved a nod,” she says.
On Monday, Academy President, Cheryl Boone-Isaacs released a statement, lamenting the organization’s lack of diversity and promising strides to do better, saying, “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.”
She continues in her statement, “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.”