Oscars committee nominates more minority actors

by Life Editor Monday Sanderson

In 2016, actors and others boycotted the Oscars, and #OscarsSoWhite was trending on Twitter and Facebook. This year, the Oscars are #NotSoWhite with the academy nominating seven minority actors.

People who work in the film industry are those who are in the academy and are able to vote on the nominees, said Jason Pangilinan, assistant professor of film and digital media production.

Since the academy votes on the movies, the nominations are different than award shows where regular viewers can vote, said senior Bri Palmer.

“The Oscars is on a more distinguished level than the others,” she said. “It’s the Super Bowl of movies.”

In the past five years, only two minority actors have won an award for best acting. These actors were Octavia Spencer for “The Help” and Lupita Nyong’o for “12 Years a Slave.” Both won awards for Best Supporting Actress.

This lack of diversity comes from tradition, Pangilinan said.

“Some of the people in the academy have been there for decades,” he said. “Some of those people don’t actually watch the films. Some say ‘Is Meryl Streep in a film? I’ll vote for her then.’”

Senior Shelby Poindexter said there should not be a minority winner every so often.

“It’s sad that there is not more recognition given to minorities at the Oscars,” she said. “We should have a more diverse pool of nominees to match the country.”

Sophomore Emily Stafford said she believes the increase in minority nominations is a reaction to the previous year.

“They don’t want to receive the same judgment that they did last year,” she said.

Pangilinan said the voters are conscientious of their decisions.

“Now the voters are becoming more mindful and have started to watch the movies instead of basing it on actors they already know,” he said. “By doing this, they are now discovering other good actors. It also helps that last year they have added over 600 new members to try and become diverse.”

Poindexter said a resurgence of racial movements might have also contributed the increase.

“These movements are bring more awareness to minorities and the prejudice toward them,” she said.

While the Oscars had issues with diversity, the Tony Awards, the show for Broadway, has had 14 minority winners in the past five years.

“I don’t think (the amount of winners) have to deal with anything major,” said senior Trevor Kurzhal. “The Tony’s just have more acting categories available. There are acting categories for both musicals and plays, so there are more chances for a minority actor to win. If the categories are cut down, then the numbers would be the same as the Oscars.”

Palmer said the difference in minority winners could come from the nature of Broadway.

“I have seen more diversity in Broadway recently than in Hollywood,” she said.

Pangilinan said there is a difference in economics between the two industries.

“Movies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a film, and (producers) are hoping to recoup that cost,” he said. “Because of this they tend to stick with certain actors that they know will bring in money. Broadway on the other hand doesn’t have to worry that much because (producers) don’t spend as much money.”

Palmer said she hopes the trend in the Oscars continues.

“It’s awesome that Hollywood is making a change,” she said. “I hope to see this growth continue and they depart from their norm.”

Pangilinan said this trend will continue as long as there are roles for minority actors.

“How many Tom Cruise movies have there been?” he said. “How many movies has Emma Stone been in? Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson have about half of those roles. There has never been a lack of talent, only a lack of opportunities.”