Academy Awards President Cheryl Boone Isaacs Insists The Organization Is Committed To Seeking Out Diversity
The first black woman to head the Academy of Motion Picture Arts says they’re committed to diversity, but this year’s nominees tell a different story. Are her comments to be trusted?
The first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spoke out Friday night in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press about the Oscar nominations and the widespread criticism that followed.
Cheryl Boone Isaacs insisted the academy is “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion” and that outreach to women and artists of color is a major focus.
“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,” Boone Isaacs said. “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.”
Boone Isaacs declined to address whether she and the academy were embarrassed by the slate of white Oscar nominees, instead insisting that she’s proud of the nominees, all of whom deserved recognition.
“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.
Besides best picture, the film received just one additional nod — for original song — in what was widely viewed as a significant snub. But fans shouldn’t feel that way, she said: “It’s nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It’s an award that showcases the talent of everyone involved in the production of the movie ‘Selma.'”
Though she repeatedly stressed the Oscars are a competitive process and that she’s proud of the year’s nominees, Boone Isaacs acknowledged that diversity needs to be mandatory in both story and storyteller.
“It matters that we pay attention to, again, the diversity of voice and opinion and experience, and that it doesn’t slide, it doesn’t slide anywhere except for forward,” she said. “And maybe this year is more just about let’s kick it in even more.”
It’s probably worth noting that a 2012 survey by the Los Angeles Times found the academy was 94 percent white, overwhelmingly male and with a median age of 62. There are currently around 7,000 members and there’s no requirement to retire so it’s probably safe to say the Academy will mostly be made up for old white men for quite some time to come.
Still, after the uproar this year it’s pretty obvious something needs to be done to be sure that black actors and projects are being equally considered, riiiiight?