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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Oscars president Cheryl Boone Isaacs 'heartbroken, frustrated' over shocking lack of black nominees for 2016 Academy Awards; 'we need to do more, quickly'.


Facing a growing backlash from Hollywood with black actors and directors saying they will boycott and not attend the 2016 Oscars, the Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs says she's heartbroken and frustrated with the lack of black nominees and that "big chances" can, must and will be made.

Director Spike Lee has said he will boycott and not attend the "lily-white" Oscars this year and has called for Hollywood glitterati to stay away.

"How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year [that] all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?," asked Spike Lee of the Oscars taking place on 28 February in Los Angeles with comedian Chris Rock as the host who himself this week called the Oscars "the white BET Awards".

Already the actors and producers pair Will and Jada Pinkett Smith indicated that they won't attend, with Jada Pinkett Smith saying in a video message on Facebook that "begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful".

With the growing backlash, the Academy on Monday night issued a statement with president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, saying "I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes".

Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences vote for the nominees and winners in all the Oscar categories. Yet nobody knows who exactly the voting members are, although, as a legacy institution, it's highly likely that the vast majority are white.

This year even less black nominees made the cut that in 2015, sparking even more concern than last year and growing calls for a boycott of the Academy Awards which annually beams the global ceremony to a global audience of million of viewers, shaping a certain view of what - and who - Hollywood is.

For the second year in a row the Oscars failed to have a single black actor nominated.

"The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership," says Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

"As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly."

"This isn't unprecedented for the Academy. In the '60s and '70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. 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 effort to move forward together," says Cheryl Boone Isaacs.