Just last Thursday nominations were announced for one of the biggest nights of “award show season”- the Academy Awards.
Although there are actors, writers, and directors
nominated worthy of receiving an award, there is no getting past the lack of representation of minorities.
While “Selma,” a movie based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march was nominated for best motion picture and best original song, it lacks recognition for the film’s main character, David Oyelowo who gave captivating performance of
Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the film’s director Ava DuVernay. Not only does the category only include men, but if she had she been nominated for Best Director, it would have been a first for an African-American woman.
With a predominately white and male voting group giving all 20 acting nominations to white actors shows the lack of diversity in the Hollywood in general.
Another problem that has been plaguing the acting industry is the “Hollywood whitewashing” and race bending in acting roles. In 2002 “A Beautiful Mind” won four out of its seven Oscar nominations including Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Connelly who plays Russell Crowe’s on-screen wife Alicia Nash. The film however fails to represent Alicia Lopez-Harrison de Lardé’s Latin heritage, which the character Alicia Nash was based on.
It is a problematic issue that we are still dealing with today such as in films such as “Exodus”, where the lead Egyptian characters were played by white actors, and new upcoming
films such as a live-action adaption of the manga “Ghost in the Shell” where Scarlett Johansson will be playing Japanese character Motoko Kusanagi.
The problem is not just the lack of minorities nominated for awards, but the failure to cast actors appropriately.
The Oscars are notorious for awarding actors Academy Awards for their performances in films where the actors play the part of a person with a disability. It gives a false sense of representation. This year Eddie Redmayne, playing Stephen Hawking in
“The Theory of Everything” joins a long list of able-bodied actors nominated for playing a physically or mentally disabled character.
It was offensive when Laurence Olivier was nominated for an Oscar in 1965 for playing Othello in Blackface, especially when you consider the fact that his nomination was in the height of the Civil Rights Movement.
Why should able-bodied actors playing disabled characters be considered different than the offensive portrayals of racial minorities? Especially when there are many talented
aspiring actors with disabilities looking to break into the acting industry. It only makes things harder when people are not given the chance for self-representation.
No matter the level acting ability an actor possesses, they would not be able to give a performance as honest and genuine as an actor of the minority would.
While the Academy has taken steps in the right direction to diversify the award nominations such as Lupita Nyong’o’s win last year for Best Supporting Actress and Marlee Matlin’s win as the first and only deaf actress to win the academy award for Best Actress in 1986. However it does not make up for the lack of
representation of minorities in this year’s nominations.
The Academy Award nominations lacked diversity this year in a year where casting on television and film did not in 2014. While the casting of people of color and other minorities has increased in the years. There are talented actors that deserve their opportunity of self-representation