Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is speaking out about the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.
“Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness [of the films nominated],” Isaacs told Deadline.
“This has been a great year in film, it really has across the board,” she continued. “You are never going to know what is going to appear on the sheet of paper until you see it.”
Regardless, Boone Isaacs acknowledged the Academy’s efforts to diversify are moving too slowly. “We have got to speed it up,” she conceded.
The Oscar nominations, announced Thursday morning, are already receiving backlash for snubbing African-American-led films like Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation and Concussion. Like last year, the acting categories are composed solely of white performers.
“What is important is that this entire conversation of diversity is here and we are talking about it,’ Boone Isaacs told the Associated Press.
“People will say, ‘Well don’t just talk, you gotta do,’ [but] talking gets to the doing, and we are going to do,” she added. “It is an industry-wide situation and we need to continue this conversation. We need to bring in new talent, to nourish the talent, to allow it to flourish and to give us all the diversity of storytelling which is what the motion picture business is all about.”
African-American filmmaker and Academy Awards producer Reginald Hudlin also expressed his frustration to Deadline Thursday morning. “Of course. I thought there was an extraordinary amount of Oscar-worthy work by black artists and they all got overlooked,” he said.
“That’s a lot, so it’s very disappointing. But that doesn’t change the fact that those movies are there, those movies are great, audiences love them and they were some of the biggest box office of the year. So America’s clear, the world is clear as they are celebrating them. I hope they are not being punished for their success.”
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Speaking on the controversy, Ice Cube, who was portrayed by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., in the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, told Wendy Williams, “I’m not pissed. I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars, they do what they do. The people loved the movie, the people supported the movie, it was No. 1 at the box office, over $200 million worldwide. I can’t be mad, you know.”
The Academy has attempted to become more inclusive after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag trended on Twitter last year. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Academy invited a diverse group of new members, including Selma star David Oyelowo, Concussion actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Compton director F. Gary Gray to join its ranks this July.
The group also announced a new initiative, A2020, to further diversify the Academy itself and also encourage the industry to open up more opportunities for women and minorities.