The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to the glaring lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees.
For the second year in a row, all 20 acting nominees were white. There was only one nonwhite nominee for best director (Alejandro G. Iñárritu), and no women. And two well-regarded films informed by the black experience — Creed and Straight Outta Compton — were snubbed in the best picture category.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Deadline on Thursday, “Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness [of the films nominated].” She added that “This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board,” while acknowledging that “We have got to speed it up” with regard to increasing diversity.
In recent years, the academy has ramped up its efforts to diversify its membership, which numbers more than 6,000 and is overwhelmingly white and male. (The organization does not disclose demographic information about its ranks, but a 2012 study by the Los Angeles Times found the academy to be 94% Caucasian and 77% male, with a median age of 62.)
Despite those efforts, it could take considerable time to truly change the face of the academy because new members make up such a small percentage of the group.
A spokesperson for the academy could not be reached for immediate comment, but in the past Boone Isaacs has stressed that the academy doesn’t have the ability greenlight films or make hiring decisions in Hollywood. “While we have nothing to do with hiring, we’re encouraging our members to hire, mentor and promote talent,” she told the L.A. Times in September. “What we can do is get our members thinking a little wider.”
A few weeks later at the Governors Awards, Boone Isaacs announced A2020, a five-year initiative to actively increase diversity in the academy itself and the industry at large, and she called on Hollywood movers and shakers to do their part.
“You understand that when it comes to fair and equal representation in our industry, words are not enough,” she said. “We also have a responsibility to take action, and we have a unique opportunity to do so now.”
See a complete list of the Oscar nominees here.