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Fans link J.Lo, Awkwafina and Lupita snubs to Oscars diversity problem

Fans also took issue with the fact that Cynthia Erivo, the only black woman nominated, portrayed a slave in "Harriet."
Image: Jennifer Lopez attends the premiere for \"Hustlers\" at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 7, 2019.
Jennifer Lopez at the premiere for "Hustlers" at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019.Amy Sussman / WireImage file

Fans say the exclusion of Jennifer Lopez, Awkwafina, Lupita Nyong’o and Eddie Murphy from this year's Oscar awards is a glaring example of the Academy's continued history of omitting artists of color from its annual nominations.

"One Black acting nominee ... despite a plethora of chances to reward so many amazing performances from Black, Latinx and Asian actors this year," tweeted writer Matthew Rodriguez. "One nominee doesn't excuse this #OscarsSoWhite lineup," he wrote, referring to Cynthia Erivo, who was the only one actress of color to be nominated for an acting Oscar.

One of the most noticeable snubs was that of Lopez, who was expected to be nominated or her portrayal of Ramona Vega, a veteran stripper in "Hustlers," a role for which she had already earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

Instead, Erivo, Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron and Renee Zellweger were nominated for best lead actress, and Kathy Bates, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, and Margot Robbie are up for best supporting actress. Scarlett Johansson was nominated in both categories.

"Jennifer Lopez was snubbed from her first ever Oscar nomination so others could be recognized for playing the same basic white women characters," tweeted another person in response to the news.

Fans are especially perturbed by Lopez's omission because they believe it is not the first time the actress has been snubbed. Many state that Lopez should have been nominated for her role as Selena, the iconic Tejano singer, in the 1997 biopic. And further compounding her snub is that had Lopez been nominated, she would have become the first U.S.-born Latina nominated for an acting Oscar since Rosie Perez was up for "Fearless" 25 years ago.

Lopez's nomination would have been all the more historic has she been competing in the lead actress category. The actress would have been the fifth Latina nominee in the category and could have been the first Latina winner in the award's history.

Yet Lopez was not the only actor who inspired tweets with #OscarsSoWhite, a hashtag that gained prominence in 2015 after all 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were white for the second year in a row.

"I saw more conversations about how good these 3 performances were than all of the Oscar nominees combined," tweeted journalist Kareem Yasin, referring to Lopez, Nyong'o, and Awkwafina. "The Academy is dooming itself to irrelevancy."

"These four women of color all had more buzz, critic awards and memorable performances than majority of the nominees," wrote another person. "The Oscars are RACIST, period. There is no excuse."

Fans also took issue with the fact that Erivo, the only black woman nominated, portrayed a slave in "Harriet."

"As usual, the only black woman (and women of color overall) they nominated was someone playing a slave," added one fan. "I’m not knocking her performance or the movie but this is so typical of them."

Though most attributed the exclusion of Nyong'o to the Academy shunning artists of color, other said her snub could also be attributed to its lack of favor towards horror movies. Nyong'o, who was a best actress nominee at the SAG Awards, was expected to be nominated for an Oscar for her role Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele's film "Us."

"The Lupita snub is predictable because of the academy’s well documented bias against horror movies," wrote one person. "She delivered two career best performances in one film! This will go down as a historic cinema injustice."

The lack of diversity in the Oscars nominations is reminiscent of the 2020 BAFTA Film Awards nominations, which included an all-white list of acting nominees. Erivo declined an invitation to sing at the BAFTA Awards ceremony because she believed the awards did not adequately represent people of color in the industry.

After the Oscars had all-white acting nominees in 2015 and 2016, the Academy introduced changes to its membership and voting rules, doubling the percentage of people of color within the Academy in four years, from 8 percent in 2015 to 16 percent in 2019. Yet, many say Monday's nominations are evidence that such initiatives are not enough.

"The Oscars are so boring. They are giving the same directors, same actors nominations over and over again for years — no exploring, no awareness," wrote one critic. "They are just selecting five white movies and nominating them in everything."