January 14, 2016
BALTIMORE, MD – The NAACP today released the following statement following the announcement of the nominees for the 88th Annual Academy awards:
“The presentation of the annual Academy Awards has long served as the culminating event of the awards season. With the announcement of the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards, the contributions of people of color to the movie industry—both in front of and behind the cameras—once again have been severely overlooked. Of the 20 acting nominations, including Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, the Academy failed for the second year in a row to nominate a single actor of color.
“The artistic judgment of the Academy can’t be dictated. The diversity of the Academy, however, can and should be demanded. The Academy is revered for its role in judging the highest expression of human ideals in film. The Academy’s judgment, however, would be better respected were it based on a diversity of membership reflecting the diversity of moviegoers. Diversity in Hollywood in 2016 seems like dialogue from a black and white silent movie in 1916, words are spoken but no one seems to be able to hear and heed the need for diversity and credibility in the Academy.
“We commend the recent efforts of the Academy to increase diversity among its members, the record however is inadequate. Lack of recognition by the Academy of exemplary performances and work by people of color working in the industry led to the creation of the NAACP Image Awards almost 47 years ago. With the 2016 nomination results, our mission and efforts are as relevant today as they have been in the past.
“According to the 2013 Motion Picture Association of America’s Theatrical Market Statistics Report, people of color represented 51% of the frequent movie going audience, and 32% of that audience was Latino, while African Americans represented 12%. These numbers alone reflect the unbalanced relationship people of color have with Hollywood. It shows how we steadfastly support the movies, while the Academy Awards seldom recognizes the numerous contributions made by people of color towards making movies, appearing in movies and even viewing them.
“It is time for the Academy Awards to be as relevant to the new crop of actors and movie-going audiences as they are to the new movie viewing platforms. A first step is to revisit the Academy membership and how it can play catch up to reflect a 21st century world. Another is to question advertisers who support the Awards show. In 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ revenue of $97.3 million dollars was due in large part to the domestic rights of its broadcast partner, ABC television, which has broadcast rights through 2020.
“The 2014 Oscars broadcast boasted the highest telecast in 10 years with 43 million viewers. This was the same year that had the most diverse slate of movies by filmmakers of color as well as actors, which assuredly attributed to its ratings increase. Diversity is not just good business, it’s the only business and the 2014 ratings numbers show that. It’s time the Academy recognizes the value and the voice of people of color and until they do, we should switch the channel until that old guard can reflect and respect what people of color bring to the table.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.