The Current

Why diversity of Oscar nominees matters beyond Hollywood

The lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominees has led American stars to call for an Oscars boycott. We convene a panel of Canadian industry movers-and-shakers for an overdue discussion and ask for their thoughts on diversity in the Canadian scene.
Oscar nominees for Best Actor (L to R), Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Bryan Cranston is also a nominee in this category (not shown). (Staff/Files/Reuters)
Listen23:16
Welcome to the 87th Oscars. Tonight we honour Hollywood's best and whitest - sorry, brightest.- Neil Patrick Harris, hosting 2015 Academy Awards

The Oscar nominees have been announced and it's getting harder, and harder to see past the lack of diversity represented for many avid fans. 

What a difference a year hasn't made.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created last year by activist and writer April Reign to help call attention to the lack of diversity in the field of Oscar nominated actors and movies. Yet again, the same hashtag can be used to highlight the same issue for this year's Academy Awards. 

The Oscar acting nominees lack people of colour for a second straight year, leading to the revival of the Twitter feed #OscarsSoWhite that emerged in 2015. From top to bottom (L-R) are best actor nominees Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, and Leonardo DiCaprio; best actress Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Charlotte Rampling, Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett; best supporting actor Mark Rylance, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Sylvester Stallone and Mark Ruffalo; best supporting actress Alicia Vikander, Rachel McAdams, Rooney Mara, Kate Winslet and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (Reuters)

Twenty out of 20 of this year's acting nominees are white, and that's led to a call for an Oscars boycott. Prominent black stars, including Oscar winner Spike Lee, and actress Jada Pinkett Smith, say they won't attend this year's gala. 

... At its best, Hollywood represents and then creates the imagery for beauty, but for my part, I think that I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country - and make our Hollywood community - great. So when I look at the series of nominations of the Academy, it's not reflecting that beauty.- Actor Will Smith is boycotting the 2016 Academy Awards

Diversity and why it matters at the Oscars, in Hollywood, and in Canadian entertainment, is a conversation that is long overdue.

The Current's panel of film and media insiders include:

  • Cameron Bailey is artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival.
  • Rakhi Mutta is the director and producer of the web series Anarkali, and CEO of Ms. Mutta Productions.
  • Amanda Parris is a writer and actor, and the host of CBC's Exhibitionists.


What do you think of the call to boycott the Oscars? Will you be watching?

Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC. Or post on Facebook. And as always, send us an email.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar.