The discussion on diversity within Hollywood and the media has been circulating lately after for the second year in the row, there were no actors of color in the Oscar nominations. And because of that, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite sprang up yet again to critique the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the decisions.
There are unfortunately too many reasons as to why this continues to be an issue – several so eloquently pointed out by Danny Devito and Don Cheadle above. But there’s also the fact that the diversity and exclusion problem go up and down Hollywood – one UCLA report found that the executive suites of the industry were mostly male and mostly white. This also translates to other facets of the industry (including the academy voters behind the Oscar nominations), with yet again most of the demographics being white and male.
Plus, most of the major talent agencies represent only a handful of actors of color. This also means that films just aren’t casting actors of color (despite the fact that there are so many talented actors of color) and if they are cast, odds are that most of the speaking roles go to white actors (as highlighted by the project Every Single Word Spoken by a Person of Color). So not only are the stories, films, and shows from people of color rarely being made but even then, actors and creators of color are rarely included.
— #FinnAwakens (@pfunk1130) January 24, 2016
The thing is though that diversity isn’t some major turn off that won’t attract an audience – especially since close to half of the movie tickets sold in 2014 were people of color according to MPAA Theatrical Market stats. Even if that wasn’t the case, people of color still exist and have stories to be told. And Hollywood could also learn a thing or two from the popularity of productions like Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ and the love of Rey from The Force Awakens.
— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) January 22, 2016
The United States was and continues to be built upon a system of white supremacy and this is reflected in Hollywood – both in the award shows and the making of films and tv shows. And we as white people have gotten so used to being the norm and being overrepresented that any sort of conversation like #OscarsSoWhite seems like an attack on us as people. The thing is that these conversations and asking for diversity isn’t some “white genocide” or reverse racism but rather, it’s a calling for an honest representation of people on screen and honoring the stories that people tell.