WTVM Editorial 1/22/16: The Oscars and Diversity

WTVM Editorial 1/22/16: The Oscars and Diversity

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Several prominent African American entertainers are calling for a boycott of the upcoming Academy Awards - The Oscars - the granddaddy of all Hollywood awards shows. The one with the gold statue that carries the most weight in the film industry.

The boycott is being urged because none of the top acting categories include nominations of black actors or actresses for the second year in a row.

Viola Davis, the star of TV's "How to Get Away with Murder" and a successful movie actress, says the questions Academy voters should be asking themselves are: "How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed?"

Davis makes the strong point that the lack of diversity begins off screen and in the boardrooms of Hollywood, and is the root cause of what some are calling the all-white Oscars.

But while the Oscar boycott grabs noisy headlines, the actual, quiet work being done by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to be more inclusive is largely ignored.

The Academy President is Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a veteran film promoter who happens to be the first African American president of the Academy.

She has already lifted the membership cap that kept the Oscars a mostly-closed club for decades, and is already recruiting more minorities in a five-year plan now underway. She also launched a mentorship program to help create opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers of color.

Even Spike Lee, the Oscar winning director, praised Isaacs' work on diversity.

Chris Rock is this year's Oscar host - his second time hosting the show. Whoopi Goldberg, an Oscar-winning actress herself, hosted four times, Richard Pryor and Sammy Davis, Jr. both also had hosting roles in the past.

But it's the behind the scenes work of the first black woman to head the Oscars and her current, unsung actions to create more diversity that needs to be supported by the same stars who are so quick to rush to judgment and call for a boycott.

That could be an award-winning strategy for everyone.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

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