Academy President on #OscarsSoWhite: "Change Is Not Coming as Fast as We Would Like"
Since she read the Oscar nominations Thursday morning, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been questioned for the second year in a row as to why every acting nominee is white. Last year, she blamed Hollywood. This year, she's taking action.
In a statement released on the Academy's Twitter account, Isaacs admitted she was "heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion" in the nominee pool. Change, she promised, is coming to the Oscars.
"This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes," she wrote. "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 to our 2016 class and beyond."
This is not the first time the Academy has attempted to diversify, as Isaacs noted in her statement. "But," she added, "change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly."
Isaacs' statement is somewhat surprising, as writer Mark Harris noted on Twitter. The Academy has not previously been so blunt about its need to change — as exemplified just last year, when Isaacs herself parried criticism of #OscarsSoWhite the first time around. A call for reform from the very top indicates that change is possible.
Isaacs is the first black president of the Academy, and only the third woman to do so in its history. This is her third Oscars cycle as president. Her response comes in the wake of high-profile actors and creators like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee declaring they will boycott the Oscars until change comes. Even rapper Snoop Dogg got into it, tearing into the Academy in both a short Instagram post and in a longer video.
"Fuck the Oscars," Snoop says in the both videos.
To prevent another #OscarsSoWhite next year, the Academy will need to commit to this serious look at its membership. A cursory attempt for good publicity won't be enough — the Oscars need real, systemic change. Luckily, Isaacs seems keenly aware of what she must do.
"In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation," Isaacs wrote in conclusion. "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."