As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the list of Oscar nominations, controversy swirled around the fact that only white actors and actresses made an appearance on the top four categories, which led to the emergence of the hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite.
For two years in a row, actors of other races, such as blacks, Asians, and Latinos were not recognized in the awards ceremony of the Oscars. In a white-dominated industry of cinema, the award nominations lacked diversity despite the numerous movies about black lives, such as “Creed” (Adonis Johnson, played by Michael B. Jordan, is taught how to box by the former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa) and “Straight Outta Compton” (a rags-to-riches biographical drama film about a group of black hip-hop rappers who revolutionize music). Regardless of the amount of attention received for those movies, only white actors and white directors received recognition.
As much as the black minority was excluded from the list of the Oscar nominations, Asians also faced the same fate. Despite the fact that the Oscars first began in 1929, only one Korean actor has been invited to the Academy Awards as a guest, for the 2016 awards show. Lee Byung Hun, an actor who first made his big break in Hollywood through the movie, “G.I. Joe,” in 2009, began to co-star in numerous movies with white actors, such as Channing Tatum and Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, he was only recognized seven years after, in 2016, simply as a guest.
Lisa Ji, a junior at Beverly Hills High School, told JSR, “I think it’s really unfair that the Oscar nominees are all white. It’s 2016. Society has changed, and the Oscars have to keep up. It’s pretty offensive, especially as a Korean-American, how the other diverse minorities are simply disregarded because of their skin color or facial appearance.”
As the nominees were predominantly white, another race was also kept off the list. According to The LA Times, a Latina hasn’t taken home an Academy Award in 54 years. Only a handful of Latinos have won the award in the past 87 years. Even when the characters were Latino, the white actors who enacted those roles won Oscars. For example, Warner Baxter, a white man, won lead actor for the movie, “In Old Arizona,” in which he played the role as a Mexican Cisco Kid.
Currently, the members of the Academy are predominantly white men. According to the Huffington Post, 94 percent of its membership was white and 77 percent male as of 2012. Due to the criticism, the Academy has announced that it would make certain changes to its membership and voting rules to include more diversity to the award nominees. As this year’s Oscars approach, the public can only wonder if the Academy will stay true to its word, or if it will continue to have white-dominated nominations.