Outrage at the lack of diversity at the Oscars was at a high Sunday night, when the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite went viral on Twitter.
Attorney and digital media consultant April Reign created the hashtag after the nominations were announced mid-January. According to Forbes, Reign said that the lack of nominees of colour for the 87th Academy Awards is what prompted her to create the hashtag. She was frustrated, but not surprised, when Oscar nods were released, and Selma star David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay did not receive nominations. “There were many performances both in front of and behind the camera by people from marginalized communities that I believe should have been recognized,” she said in an interview with the business magazine. “The point of the hashtag I created is not that the other nominees are not deserving. They all turned in excellent performances and that should be recognized. But Ava and David also should be recognized for their outstanding contributions, among others.”
Her original tweet prompted a host of jokes as well as comments on the trending topic from viewers, celebrities, and popular media.
The topic of diversity at the Oscars is not a new subject. A 2012 study by the Los Angeles Times found that Academy voters were almost 94% white, and 77% male. Blacks and Latinos collectively make up less than 2% of the Academy, according to the study. The median age of the voters is 62, and people under 50 years old only make 14% of the total Academy population. Media Diversified also posted an infographic on Twitter detailing the diversity gap at the Oscars.
Since the study, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has spoken out about moving forward to diversify the organization. In an interview with the Associated Press, she talked about the issue. “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,” she 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 Issacs is the Academy’s first black and third female president.