wirtten by: Carter Daniels, Staff Writer
Over the past few years, the Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, have received criticism regarding the lack of diversity in their nominees. Recently, they put a plan in place to create more diversity and inclusivity in the annual Academy Awards.
The Oscars are regarded as the most famous and prestigious awards in the film entertainment industry. The five major Oscars awards, also known as the “Big Five,” consist of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay, which is either Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay.
Following the 87th Academy Awards in 2015, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was questioned if the group had an issue with diversity. In 2015, all 20 nominees in the running for the Oscars were White.
The Academy knew they had to change the structure of the awards to promote diversity. After a second all-White group of actors was nominated and the activist April Reign’s #OscarsSoWhite hashtag gained support, the Academy proposed new inclusion guidelines to welcome diversity in the program.
Set to take effect in time for the 96th Oscars in 2024, these guidelines will require films to meet two of four diversity standards to be eligible for nomination for Best Picture.
The first set of standards, Standard A, has to meet one of the following. The purpose of Standard A is to encourage diversity in an industry with predominantly White actors. The criteria for standard A includes:
1. At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role.
2. The story must center on women, LGBT+ people, a racial or ethnic group or the disabled.
3. At least 30% of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories.
Standard B is focused on behind the scenes employees, and films are required to meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Two or more department heads (for example, director, cinematographer or composer) must be female, LGBT+, disabled or part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
2. At least six other crew members must be from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
3. At least 30% of the film’s crew must hail from the four underrepresented groups laid out in these guidelines.
Standard C requires one of the two following criteria to be met:
1. The film’s distributor or financing company must have at least two interns from an underrepresented group.
2. The film’s production, distribution or financing company must offer training or work opportunities to people from those underrepresented groups.
Standard D requires that some of the senior marketing, publicity and distribution executives on a film are from an underrepresented group.
Critics have been wondering how these rules will affect the film industry and the Academy Awards in particular. Those of us in the audience will just have to wait until 2024 to see the impact of how these rules change the diversity at the Oscars.
However, the same situation happened in the successive year, with no performers of color nominated for any acting awards at the Oscars.
Again, this year five years later from the question from the media, there is still a struggle to incorporate diversity into the Oscars. Best actress nominee Cynthia Erivo, who played Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet, was the only performer of color nominated for this year’s Oscars presentation on Feb. 9, 2020.
In an interview with BBC Breakfast on being the only person of color nominated, Erivo commented, “I want to make sure it doesn’t look like this every single time. Hopefully, this year will be a turning point for everyone because we’re talking about it out loud, and now it can start to make some changes.”
“I think that the new standards are essential to create diversity and inclusivity in the Oscars. I support the new standards put in place,” first year Angus Flinn commented.
The reasoning for why there was only one person of color nominated is not certain.
Some performers of color who have received major nominations at preceding awards, such as the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards, include Jennifer Lopez of Hustlers, Awkwafina of Farewell, Lupita Nyong’o of Us, Eddie Murphy of Dolemite Is My Name, Song Kang- Ho of Parasite and Zhao Shuzhen of The Farewell.