After the nominations were announced, and it was revealed that this year’s Oscars would be the whitest since 1998, the first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said she didn’t see much of a problem. “Not at all. Not at all,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs told Vulture on Thursday. “The good news is that the wealth of talent is there, and it’s being discussed, and it’s helpful so much for talent—whether in front of the camera or behind the camera—to have this recognition, to have this period of time where there is a lot of publicity, a lot of chitter-chatter.”
Now, after #OscarsSoWhite started trending on Twitter, Boone Isaacs is changing her tune, telling the Associated Press that the all-white acting category this year is pushing her to think of ways that the academy could be more inclusive. “In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Boone Isaacs said. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”
Isaacs Boone declined to say whether she was embarrassed by the all-white nominees in the acting categories. But she did say that people shouldn’t feel as though Selma was snubbed because director Ava DuVernay and star David Oyelowo were not nominated. “It’s nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It’s an award that showcases the talent of everyone involved in the production of the movie Selma.”
Despite the academy’s efforts to diversify, things are going slowly. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013 that 93 percent of the academy is white and 76 percent is male.
Spike Lee, who knows a thing or two about being snubbed by the Oscars, says the whole thing is meaningless anyway, and Selma isn’t a better or worse movie just because it didn’t get as many Oscar nods as it should have. He tells the Daily Beast:
That doesn’t diminish the film. Nobody’s talking about motherfuckin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is. Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherfuckin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? Fuck ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.’