It’s been an insane ride since the Oscar nominations came out for this year’s Academy Awards.
Earlier this month, we found out who got nominated for the 2016 Academy Awards, which airs February 28 and are hosted by Chris Rock. Not surprisingly, not everyone was pleased with the nominations. After noticing that the nominations completely overlooked not one but a few diverse options, in particular African Americans, observers went completely wild. From social media outrage to celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith speaking out about the issue, there has been so much drama surrounding the Academy it’s almost unbelievable.
First, there’s been backlash for not having enough diversity among Academy voters which leads to the lack of diversity in the nominations. The most overlooked choice according to the audience was Straight Outta Compton, which was nominated for Best Original Screenplay but as you probably guessed, that wasn’t enough. The issue that people really calculated was the fact that the two representatives will be white which makes this whole thing obviously a “racist” thing.
Since all the speculation, there has been so much conversation going on that it sparked the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite again. This controversial hashtag first appeared last year and many have been using it to express their thoughts on the subject.
15. Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon, an Oscar-winning actress herself, decided to speak up on the lack of diversity from the Academy Awards on Facebook on January 21st. She posted her words as she shared a TIME article regarding the controversy. Witherspoon wrote, “Really appreciated this article in TIME on the lack of racial and gender diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations,” she said. “So disappointed that some of 2015’s best films, filmmakers and performances were not recognized…Nothing can diminish the quality of their work, but these filmmakers deserve recognition. As an Academy member, I would love to see a more diverse voting membership.”
14. Lupita Nyong’o
Actress Lupita Nyong’o took to her Instagram to express her thoughts on the lack of diversity. “I am disappointed by the lack of inclusion in this year’s Academy Awards nominations,” the actress wrote. “It has me thinking about conscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture. The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in our modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today. I stand with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them.”
13. Matt Damon
The A-list actor got in on all the Oscar’s drama during the Sundance Film Festival. Matt Damon spoke to US Weekly saying he was disappointed by the bad news. “You know, it’s shameful and embarrassing,” he said. “There’s two years in a row that there are no people of color nominated. That’s insane. It’s a strong first step but that is all that it is, it’s a first step,” he commented regarding Isaac’s (Academy Awards President) plan. “This is going to be a very long road . . . I was very happy that they did that.” The actor then continued to express his thoughts to the AP. “We’re talking about huge systemic injustices around race and gender that are a lot bigger than the Oscars. They’re massive issues in our industry and in our country.”
12. Melissa Rivers
Fashion Police host, Melissa Rivers, also got the chance to speak about #OscarsSoWhite to US Weekly. “You have to remember, the tail doesn’t wag the dog, the dog wags the tail,” Rivers said. “Everyone is angry at the tail. The problem is the dog. Until that problem is solved, and there’s a larger pool of roles and performances, you’re going to find yourself in this situation. There’s a systemic problem with opportunities for different races in Hollywood and I’m glad there’s attention being put on it.” The 48-year-old host continued by singling out the Academy’s president. “Of course some amazing performances were overlooked. But some amazing performances by actors and actresses of every color were overlooked. I feel badly for the president of the Academy, because not only is she a woman, she’s black. If anyone’s going to be sensitive to this situation, it’s going to be her.”
11. Quincy Jones
Legendary producer, Quincy Jones, commented on the diversity controversy during the NATPE 2016 and pointed out the troubled position he has with the Oscars. “They called me to go present with Pharrell and Common,” Jones said. “When I’m back in Los Angeles, I’m going to ask them to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to present… I’ve been involved with Academy longer than I care to remember. I was the first black board member. I hate ‘first black,’ because that means ‘only’… There are two ways to do it. You can boycott or you can fix it. It’s frightening to see 90 percent white and 80 percent white male.”
10. Viola Davis
Viola Davis went more in-depth as she spoke to Entertainment Tonight. The 50-year-old actress expressed that it is not so much about the Oscars but more about what goes on behind the scenes and the business aspect of the industry. She said, “The problem is with the Hollywood movie-making system. How many black films are being produced every year? How are they being distributed? The films that are being made, are the big-time producers thinking outside of the box in terms of how to cast the role? Can you cast a black woman in that role? Can you cast a black man in that role?” As for her thoughts on Chris Rock hosting, the two-time Oscar nominee suggested he’d take the opportunity to speak up on the issue.
9. Idris Elba
Actor Idris Elba went above and beyond, speaking to the UK Parliament, according to US Weekly, regarding where he stands. “We need to count up what everybody has, see the lay of the land, see who has which careers in TV, who makes TV, who’s allowed on TV,” he said to the British leaders. “You have to ask the question, ‘Are black people always playing petty criminals? Are women always the love interest or always talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people ever seen at all?” The actor was also a victim of getting snubbed this year by the Academy for his role in Beasts of No Nation as an African warlord.
8. David Oyelowo
Another actor who has experienced getting snubbed by the Academy is David Oyelowo. Last year, the actor was overlooked for his role portraying Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. He went on to express his feelings towards the issue this year at the King Legacy Awards in Los Angeles. “A year ago, I did a film called Selma, and after the Academy Awards, [Academy president] Cheryl [Boone Isaacs] invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then,” he commented. “We had a deep and meaningful discussion. For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of color, actresses of color, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable.”
7. Cheryl Boone Isaacs
The President of the Academy Awards, Cheryl Boone Isaacs made sure to address the issue in a statement to US Weekly. “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion,” she said. “This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.”
6. George Clooney
Everyone was eager to know what A-list actor, George Clooney, had to say about #OscarsSoWhite. He got to speak with Variety in an interview about the trending topic. “I don’t think it’s a problem of who you’re picking as much as it is: how many options are available to minorities in film, particularly in quality films?” he said in the interview. “I think that African Americans have a real fair point that the industry isn’t representing them well enough. I think that’s absolutely true. There should be 20 or 30 or 40 films of the quality that people would consider for the Oscars. By the way, we’re talking about African Americans. For Hispanics, it’s even worse. We need to get better at this. We used to be better at it.”
5. Steve Harvey
Although he has his own controversy going on with the whole Miss USA debacle, Steve Harvey took the time to speak to The Hollywood Reporter regarding Chris Rock hosting the Oscars and whether he should also boycott the award show along with other celebrities. “I understand the boycott,” he said. “I understand what they’re saying. What I don’t understand is asking Chris Rock not to host. I think Chris Rock should host. Chris Rock doesn’t determine who the nominees are. The Academy does. And nobody knows who the Academy is.” It seems the talk show host knows exactly where he stands in this situation.
4. Spike Lee
Spike Lee was one of the first celebrities to come out and speak his mind when the Oscar nominations disappointed. “#OscarsSoWhite… Again,” the director took to Instagram about his disappointment. “I Would Like To Thank President Cheryl Boone Isaacs And The Board Of Governors Of The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences For Awarding Me an Honorary Oscar This Past November. I Am Most Appreciative. However My Wife, Mrs. Tonya Lewis Lee And I Will Not Be Attending The Oscar Ceremony This Coming February. We Cannot Support It And Mean No Disrespect To My Friends, Host Chris Rock and Producer Reggie Hudlin, President Isaacs And The Academy. But, How Is It Possible For The 2nd Consecutive Year All 20 Contenders Under The Actor Category Are White? And Let’s Not Even Get Into The Other Branches. 40 White Actors In 2 Years And No Flava At All. We Can’t Act?! WTF!! For Too Many Years When The Oscars Nominations Are Revealed, My Office Phone Rings Off The Hook With The Media Asking Me My Opinion About The Lack Of African-Americans And This Year Was No Different. For Once, (Maybe) I Would Like The Media To Ask All The White Nominees And Studio Heads How They Feel About Another All White Ballot. As I See It, The Academy Awards Is Not Where The ‘Real’ Battle Is. It’s In The Executive Office Of The Hollywood Studios And TV And Cable Networks.”
3. Ice Cube
Rapper and actor, Ice Cube, is in the middle of the whole lack of diversity talk. When he got to speak his mind on The Wendy Williams Show, the rapper seemed less bothered than all of us even though he is one of the main victims. When host Wendy Williams, expressed her view on Straight Outta Compton being snubbed, she told Ice Cube she thought they would get a lot more than just the screenplay nomination. The rapper responded with “me too.” He then went on to say “I’m not pissed. I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars, they do what they do,” he said. “The people loved the movie, the people supported the movie. It was No. 1 at the box office, over $200 million worldwide. I can’t be mad, you know.”
2. Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union expressed her opinion during the Sundance Film Festival, saying “I think Shonda Rhimes said it best. She said, ‘I’m not a trailblazer for casting my shows like reality.’ Diversity isn’t brave. It’s not a fad. It’s reality. . . . If you look around the room it’s pretty diverse, and everyone should have a place at the table. It’s representation. It’s seeing your face reflected. I think if you see who runs Hollywood it’s a very homogeneous group and they like to see themselves reflected.”
However, once Stacy Dash came out with her BET comments, Union made sure to make her opinion loud and clear. “Who is Stacey Dash?” Union said to the Associated Press. “The more that we focus on inclusion and a true representation of this country, I think that crazy lady will have less to say.”
1. Jada Pinkett Smith
As the first celebrity to spark tension surrounding the Oscar controversy, Jada Pinkett Smith declared her position in an intimate video which caused her some backlash as well. The fact that her husband, Will Smith, was not nominated this year, stirred the idea of the actress just being “hurt” and “bitter” about it. Nonetheless, Will responded to her controversial video and explained she would have made it even if he was nominated. “Here’s what I know,” Jada said in the video which she posted on Facebook. “Begging for acknowledgment or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are powerful, and let’s not forget it. So let’s let the Academy do them with all grace and love, and let’s do us differently.”