Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith recently announced they would be boycotting the 2016 Academy Awards due to the lack of diversity in the acting categories, and in a new statement, Oscars president Cheryl Boone Isaacs admitted that she’s “heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion.”
“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” Isaacs said. “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.” Following the Academy Awards nominations, which spawned the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, Isaacs similarly expressed her disappointment.
For the second straight year, all 20 of the nominees in this year’s acting categories are white, and the lack of diversity extends into the other categories as well. The Revenant‘s Mexico-born director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárittu, who won Best Director in 2015 for Birdman, is the only minority nominee in the major categories. While actors like Concussion‘s Will Smith and Beasts of No Nation‘s Idris Elba garnered nominations at other major award shows like the Golden Globes, neither scored an Oscar nod.
“As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly,” she continued. “This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the Sixties and Seventies it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.”
In November, when Lee was given an honorary Oscar, the director used the occasion as an opportunity to blast Hollywood for their overall lack of diversity. “Everybody here probably voted for Obama,” Lee said in his acceptance speech. “But in [Hollywood] offices, I see no black folks except for the man who’s the security guard who checks my name off the list as I got into the studio. So we can talk ‘Yabba yabba yabba,’ but we need to have a serious conversation about diversity and get some flavor up in this. It’s easier to be President of the United States as a black person than be the head of the studio or head of a network.”
A statement from Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs pic.twitter.com/Nqhgc7sbqG
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) January 19, 2016