The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took the stage during the Oscars on Sunday to address the issue of diversity in the film industry, calling on the power players in attendance and Hollywood at large to strive for greater inclusion.
“The Oscars celebrate the storytellers who have the opportunity to work in the powerful medium of film, and with that opportunity comes responsibility,” academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said during the ceremony. “Our audiences are global and rich in diversity, and every facet of our industry should be as well. Everyone in the Hollywood community has a role to play in bringing about the vital changes the industry needs so that we can accurately reflect the world today.”
Referring to the academy’s recent overhaul of its membership and voting rules, Boone Isaacs said the organization “took concrete action and sent a message that inclusion only serves to make us all stronger. It’s important that the members of the academy and everyone in this room help deliver that message. Each of you is an ambassador who can influence others in the industry. It’s not enough to just listen and agree; we must take action.”
While the Oscars have increasingly come under fire for not selecting diverse nominees, Boone Isaacs has previously asserted that the Academy is only part of the equation and doesn’t have the power greenlight films or make hiring decisions in Hollywood.
She concluded her remarks Sunday by saying, “Dr. Martin Luther King once said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ I am confident that together we can shape a future of which all of us can be proud.”
Diversity and the controversy over this year’s nominations was a focal point of the ceremony on Sunday night, as host Chris Rock spent a large portion of his monologue cracking jokes at Hollywood’s expense. Rock ended the broadcast by calling out the #BlackLivesMatter movement.