Despite the presence of “Selma” in this year’s best picture race, the remaining films and actors nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) are a vivid reminder of an issue that often overshadows the film industry’s most prestigious accolades – an overwhelming lack of diversity.
Among the 20 actors and actresses nominated for the most outstanding performances from the last year in film, all of the nominees at the 87th annual Academy Awards are white for the second time in almost two decades. No performer from “Selma” was nominated, including British actor David Oyelowo, who many pundits predicted would be nominated for his deeply human portrayal of the film’s central character, Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Academy Awards’ lack of representation of people of color did not go without a response from the American public. In the aftermath of the nominations, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on social media. Within a day, there were more than 20,000 mentions of the hashtag on Twitter, which lambasted the Academy’s perceived racial hangup.
Oyelowo later said he wasn’t surprised his name didn’t make the final list of Academy Award nominees, because black actors in Hollywood have historically won awards when they play “subservient” roles.
“Generally speaking, we, as black people, have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders or kings or being in the center of our own narrative, driving it forward,” Oyelowo said during an on-stage interview at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
You decide: Are the Oscars colorblind?