After two years of backlash and outcry over the lack of diversity within Academy Award nominations, there has been a slight increase in racial diversity within the four acting categories.
Seven out of the 20 nominees for Best Actor and Actress and Best Actor and Actress in a Supporting Role are people of color (POC). These actors include Denzel Washington for â€œFences,â€ Mahershala Ali for â€œMoonlight,â€ Dev Patel for â€œLion,â€ Ruth Negga for â€œLoving,â€ Viola Davis for â€œFences,â€ Naomie Harris for â€œMoonlightâ€ and Octavia Spencer for â€œHidden Figures.â€ This is unlike last yearâ€™s nominees in these categories, who were all white.
According to Entertainment Tonight, this yearâ€™s black actors are nominated in every acting category in Oscarsâ€™ history. With these nominations, many are satisfied with this slight recognition towards equality. While itâ€™s great that there has been a positive response to the backlash the Academy has received, seven POC out of 20 nominees overall still isnâ€™t considered equal, especially when comparing how many POC have been nominated for Academy awards in the past.
For instance, Patel is the third Indian actor to receive a nomination. Heâ€™s also the only Indian to be nominated for an Oscar this year. The other six people of color who are nominees are black. Thirteen Asian and Asian-American actors have been nominated in the 88 years the Academy Awards have been held. Recognizing that racial diversity isnâ€™t only about the inclusivity of black people is an important step for the Academy to take, and one it hasnâ€™t done very well.
However, the beauty of diversity is that it isnâ€™t restricted to one category. While race plays a large role in how we react to and talk about diversity, we need to recognize that there are different areas, such as gender, sexuality, religion, etc.
Itâ€™s great that weâ€™ve seen women in influential and powerful roles. Movies like last yearâ€™s â€œGhostbustersâ€ and next yearâ€™s â€œOceanâ€™s Eightâ€ include all-female casts, which is so important for younger girls to see and for society to recognize as normal.
Stepping away from what weâ€™ve accepted as â€œnormalâ€ and â€œrightâ€ in terms of the types of characters we see on screen is crucial. Diversification of roles in multiple categories gives people watching a sense of comfort and acceptance, and introduces society to different and maybe unfamiliar things.
I believe that one way we can continue to influence who we see in movies and on TV is to demand diversity. The representation of people of color on the big screen is something we, as consumers, should demand. For once, I would love to see someone who looks like me have a lead role in a powerful movie, instead of being cast as a background actor with a few lines that perpetuate popular stereotypes.
Weâ€™ve seen the impact hashtags and protests have done for Hollywood. #OscarsSoWhite sparked conversation and made the Academy see how consumers really felt. Letâ€™s not forget how powerful we are when we demand equality. Continue to fight for it.