President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, issued a statement over the weekend after Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith called for a boycott of the Oscars due to the lack of ethnically diverse nominees.
“I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees,” she said. “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.
“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,” Boone Isaacs said in what amounted to a rare and unusual move on the part of the Academy.
“As many of you know,” she continued, “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.”
“This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy,” added Boone Isaacs. “In the ‘60s and ‘70s, 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.”
She wasn’t the only one to voice her opinion. Last year’s majorly snubbed David Oyelowo ripped the Oscars for doing the same thing the Academy did last year by failing to recognize his role as Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma. At a gala to honor Boone Isaacs, he said the Academy has a problem that needs to be fixed.
“A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then,” he said. “We had a deep and meaningful [conversation]. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”
But David didn’t exactly urge for a boycott of the preeminent award show.
“I would like to walk away and say it doesn’t matter, but it does, because that acknowledgement changes the trajectory of your life, your career, and the culture of the world we live in.”
He said of the current Academy: “This institution doesn’t reflect its president and it doesn’t reflect this room. I am an Academy member and it doesn’t reflect me, and it doesn’t reflect this nation.”
As host Chris Rock calls them, the White BET Awards, better known as the Oscars, air on ABC February 28.
SOURCE: THR | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty