President Barack Obama speaking on the recent 2016 Oscar/Academy Award nominations and backlash is evidence that the Oscars have has created quite an impact in the conversation of diversity and inclusion. Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, President Obama briefly spoke on the importance of inclusion in Hollywood and how the state of California in general is a big part of that.
“I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country,” Obama said, according to ABC News. “That’s a strength. I think that when everyone’s story is told then that makes for better art.”
“It makes for better entertainment it makes everybody feel part of one American family, so I think as a whole the industry should do what every other industry should do which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody. And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”
In Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke on the Oscars controversy as well, echoing President Obama’s sentiments on the Oscars controversy.
“I think it is overdue, but the Academy announced that they are going to be making some changes, as they should,” Clinton told AOL. “Just think of the great films that not only display the diversity of America, but the diversity of the human experience. The Academy has to catch up with our reality.”
— Nadine Patterson (@hipcinema) January 28, 2016
April Reign, Managing Editor of BroadwayBlack.com and Editor at Large of NU Tribe Magazine, is the originator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and has built a large following on social media. The nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards were also ignoring artists of color, specifically Selma director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo. Reign tweeted the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and it went viral, with media outlets like The Huffington Post touching on the Oscars controversy.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson have been well aware of the Oscars controversy. The two recently spoke with the Hollywood Reporter, revealing their reasoning for the changes in the Academy voting process.
“I would say more importantly that we could not be silent,” Boone Isaacs said. “And we had no reason to be silent.”
The #OscarsSoWhite movement would not be where it is right now, or even exist at all, if it weren’t for April Reign, yet none of the major media outlets seem to be acknowledging her presence in this discussion. The hashtag was originally created out of he frustration she felt with the lack of inclusion and diversity in Hollywood. In an interview with Nu Tribe Magazine, she brings up the fact that the indie film Tangerine, starring two transgender women of color, was overlooked for The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne, even though Tangerine garnered more critical acclaim.
The Oscars award ceremony this year will be hosted by comedian Chris Rock. Chris tossed out his original material and began writing a new monologue after the nominations were announced. It’s to be expected that the comedian will call out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for their nomination choices and voting process. Oscars producer Reginald Hudlin says Chris Rock will be doing just that.
“You should expect #OscarsSoWhite jokes,” Hudlin told ET Online in an exclusive interview. “And, yes, the Academy is ready for him to do that. They’re excited about him doing that. They know that’s what we need.”
Some have called for Chris Rock to boycott the Academy Awards and refuse to host, but that no longer seems to be an option. The Oscars ceremony is going to air live on February 28.
— Chris Rock (@chrisrock) January 15, 2016
[Photo by Chuck Kennedy/White House via Getty Images]