It is with good reason that Hollywood is called a “dream factory.” Since the very inception of motion pictures, movies have fed our dreams — especially the dreams of young people. It is vitally important that no child ever feel left out of those dreams on account of their race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.
Right now, the people of Flint, Michigan — a predominately African-American city — cannot get safe tap water, and young black people are being killed and imprisoned all over this country because of a flawed system of justice. It may seem flippant to be upset about the lack of African-American nominees for the Academy Awards, but the right to dream is as vital as any right enumerated in the Constitution.
The announcement earlier this month that, for the second straight time, there was not a single African-American actor nominated in the four main acting categories prompted a huge backlash under the #OscarsSoWhite banner. That led to a call for an Oscars boycott from many celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee.
Reacting quickly, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced steps to address the problem by expanding and diversifying the membership of the Academy. Boone Isaacs, elected in 2013, is the first African-American to serve as the Academy’s president. Her leadership on this issue should be applauded.
The Academy does not publicly disclose the names of its members. Membership comes only from being nominated for an Oscar or by being sponsored by two current members. And membership is for life. Not surprisingly, the membership has grown somewhat ossified over the decades. In 2012, the Los Angeles Times determined that the membership then was 94% white, 77% male, and 86% over the age of 50. Not the most diverse group — the Academy makes the US Supreme Court look like the Wu Tang Clan.
*Read the entire article on The Hollywood Reporter.