The first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has spoken out about the outrage surrounding the lack of diversity among this year’s slate of Oscar nominees – and says the Academy is taking steps to address it going forward.
“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the Associated Press Friday evening. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”
The 2015 Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning, and all 20 acting nominees were white – something that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades. Notable snubs included David Oyelowo, who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, and Selma director Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first black woman nominated in the Best Director category. The snubs quickly gave birth to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on Twitter.
Selma did receive a Best Picture nomination, which Boone Isaacs pointed out to the AP.
“What is important not to lose sight of is that Selma, which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people,” Boone Isaacs said.
On Friday, the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition released a statement, per the AP, that the recent Oscar nominations “obviously reflects a lack of diversity in Oscar voters as well as in films generally.”
The Associated Press pointed to a 2012 survey in the Los Angeles Times that found the Academy is 94 percent white and primarily male with a median age of 62. The AP reports the Academy has nearly 7,000 members with no requirement to retire.
Boone Isaacs called Oscar voting a “peer-to-peer process,” that is separated by category, with the exception of Best Picture.
“There is not one central body or group of people that sit around the table and come up with nominations,” she explained.
Boone Isaacs declined to tell the AP whether she is embarrassed by the overwhelming number of white nominees.
However, she did say the Academy is “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion,” particularly women and people of color.