Has #OscarsSoWhite created more diversity, representation among nominees?

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Oscars six years after 'Oscars So White'
Sandy Kenyon reports on how the academy has changed after 'Oscars So White'.

NEW YORK -- This year's Oscars features a record for nominees of color, but it was only just a few years ago when #OscarsSoWhite dominated social media and highlighted the lack of diversity within the Academy.

One of the most dramatic moments Sandy Kenyon says he ever witnessed in his career came at Academy headquarters in Beverly Hills on January 14, 2016.

He remember the gasps and the sighs when for the second straight year, all of the Oscar nominees in the acting categories were white. Now, it's time for an update.

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Last year in the Oscar broadcast's final minutes, Spike Lee presented the award for Best Picture to South Korean producer and director Bong Soon Ho for "Parasite."

The win is part of general trend towards more diversity at the Academy Awards.

"We've seen some incremental progress since I created #OscarsSoWhite in 2015," activist April Reign said.

The nominations in 2015 and 2016 definitely prompted change.

"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences committed to doubling the amount of people of color and doubling the amount of women in its ranks by 2020, and in fact, they did that," Reign said. "Unfortunately, it was a bit too little too late because the Academy is still overwhelming white and overwhelmingly male."

And yet, signs of progress do exist. The field of acting nominees is the most diverse ever with a total of nine performers of color compared to just one last year.

Viola Davis received her fourth Oscar nomination for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."

"We are now harnessing all of our talent, all of our ingenuity," she said. "And we are literally demanding to be seen."

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Among those harnessing their talents is Andra Day, but she sees "the need for even more representation in these spaces." She adds that she has such "respect for people who have been here, been fighting for so long for these things."

Essence has been honoring Black women for 14 years now, women like Whoopi Goldberg, who was honored on Thursday at the Black Women in Hollywood Awards.

For years, lone voices have been crying out for change. But now, they've assembled into a mighty chorus, and Hollywood is finally starting to listen.

Essence seeks to honor what the company calls "the power of Black creatives." This year's virtual show is free and online at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Details can be found on their website.

Mark your calendars: April 25 is Oscar Sunday. Live coverage begins Sunday morning and continues all day with special "On The Red Carpet" coverage leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information.