The NAACP 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—have once again been severely overlooked. Of the 20 acting nominations, including Best Actor and Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress, the Academy failed for a second year in a row to consider a single actor of color for this distinguished award.
The 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.
Academy voters are members of a private, invitational club of artists that lacks diversity by race and gender. While a sprinkling of filmmakers from varied populations have been invited to join the Academy ranks, this organization neither reflects the global diversity of the world, or the many moviegoers who support the industry. According to the 2013 Motion Picture Association of America’s Theatrical Market Statistics Report, people of color represented 51 percent of the frequent movie going audience — 32 percent of that audience was Latino, while African Americans represented 12 percent.
These numbers alone reflect the unbalanced relationship people of color have with Hollywood. Our brothers, sisters and friends love and support film and art, yet the Academy Awards seldom recognize the numerous and notable contributions by people of color making and appearing in entertainment today.
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 most-watched 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.