Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says she is “heartbroken and frustrated” over the lack of ethnic diversity in the 2016 Oscar nominations.
In a statement posted to The Academy’s Twitter account, Boone Isaacs said the Academy would be “taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership” and would conduct a review of the way it recruits members, who are responsible for selecting Oscar nominees and voting for winners.
The statement comes after director Spike Lee and actor Jada Pinkett-Smith announced they would not be attending the awards ceremony on 28th February due to the “lily white” nominations leaving out black actors.
Last week, Boone Isaacs expressed her “disappointment” over the lack of diversity in the nominations after the hastag #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter.
“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” she said.
However, this past year, the Academy had one of its most diverse voter classes yet, with women and ethnic minorities making up a much higher percentage of the potential voters.
Boone Isaacs mentioned the changes that have already been made to try and bring more diversity to the Academy membership but added, “The change is not coming as fast as we would like.”
“We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”
A number of non-white actors were tipped for nominations, including Michael B Jordan (Creed), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Benicio Del Toro (Sicario) and Samuel L Jackson (The Hateful Eight).
Spike Lee posted to his Instagram on Monday, saying that he would not be attending the awards ceremony in February because he could not continue to support black actors being excluded, despite the Honorary Oscar he was given in November,
“[sic] How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White?” the post read. “And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!!”
After mentioning the efforts in the past to bring more diversity to Oscar voters, Boone Isaacs said, “In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our efforts to move forward together.”