The Oscars are just around the corner, and while it was once an event that was only uplifting, it is quickly devolving into one that is all about controversy. For something that comes only a few weeks after Valentine’s Day and with all the love some of us have for the entertainers that will be attending the event, we just wish there was more love being thrown around! Unfortunately, the event is being slammed for its failure to include any strong nominations from non-white entertainers. Now that comedian Chris Rock has been selected to be the host of the internationally known award ceremony, some critics are still not satisfied.
As an avid movie buff, I have seen a tremendous amount of diversity over the past 10 years in television sitcoms, movies and commercials. Many ethnic actors and actresses have stepped up their game and landed A+ roles in movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Fast and the Furious, The Fantastic Four and Spectre just to name a few.
Aside from the 2016 Oscar Award nominations, there has been buzz amongst Marvel Comic fans. We are starting to see more ethnic entertainers given the opportunity to play characters that were originally Caucasian in certain comic books. An example of this includes the role of Johnny Storm being given to Michael B. Jordan in the 20th Century Fox movie The Fantastic Four last year. This would be a great trend, especially given the popularity of anything superhero related.
Whether you are for or against the current list of nominees for this year’s awards, here are 10 ethnic entertainers, some that should have gotten attention from the Academy this year, and others that we hope will have a tremendous 2016!
10. Will Smith
Will Smith has had an amazing journey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air days to his success as a director and producer working alongside his wife and son in a few movies. 2015 was definitely his year when he starred as Nicky Spurgeon, the charming, street smart professional con artist in the movie Focus. The film showed him capturing the interest of Margot Robbie’s character Jess Barrett. And despite his age, Smith showed the world he can still walk the red carpet with young starlets. The movie grossed $6.4 million in its opening day, finishing first place at the box office. Will also played a stellar role in Concussion, which covered an incredibly important matter and was deserving of recognition. Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett stated on YouTube she plans to boycott the Oscars, and it is easy to see why.
9. Sofia Vergara
The exotic Latina actress Sofia Vergara has worked in a long list of movies for the past 14 years. She started out in small films and rose to fame while playing in Tyler Perry’s movie Meet the Browns, was a love interest in the romance film New Year’s Eve and showed us she can not only play in comedies but get a few bruises in the action comedy The Hot Pursuit. Vergara continues to keep us interested in Modern Family where she plays the wife of Ed O’Neill who was the infamous husband in one of the top rated television shows of all time Married… With Children. Here is hoping that 2016 will lead to her getting the roles and recognition that she deserves.
8. F. Gary Gray, Directing
Straight Outta Compton was the hip hop movie of the year that many people were waiting for since the trailer showed its face on YouTube. Many millennials grew up in the 1990s watching NWA on MTV saying the words that even most rappers were afraid to repeat publicly! Whether you learned about the group through friends or on your own, simply turning on the news could lead to you learning about the controversy that the group stirred up.
Gary Gray did an amazing job depicting the reality of living in Compton many of us never knew while telling the story of one of hip hop’s internationally known groups and the hardships they went through to get to the top of the Billboard list. The movie was so well done that I almost forgot Ice Cube was not in the movie! Instead the iconic musician was played by his son O’Shea Jackson, Jr.
7. Oscar Isaac, Actor in a Supporting Role
Oscar Isaac has always been one of my favorite up and coming actors. Just when you thought his first name was a sure enough sign, he was forgotten this year. It helps that he is attractive, but all jokes aside, his talent in A Most Violent Year and more recently his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Poe Dameron showed us at least one nomination was well deserved. Oscar is a tremendous actor, whose immersion into his roles can make you forget you are watching a movie. Look out for Oscar Isaac this year as En Sabah Nur (aka Apocalypse!) in X-Men: Apocalypse.
6. Kevin Hart, Actor in a Leading Role
What movie have we not seen Kevin Hart in last year? Kevin Hart is one of the highest paid African American comedians with a net worth of $63 million. I almost fell off of my seat at the movie theatre watching him in the Wedding Ringer (in a good way). Although the movie Get Hard starring Will Ferrell (that he spent so much time promoting) wasn’t as hilarious as some of his others, Hart still showed some hilarity in his most recent movie, Ride Along 2. Not to mention that the actor can clearly still get a draw at the box office. Hart’s diversity in Hollywood has allowed him to work with entertainers from a variety of backgrounds and races.
5. Dev Patel, Actor in a Leading Role
Dev Patel came to us as a surprise in the movie Slumdog Millionaire co-starring Frieda Pinto. The world was not expecting to see a Bollywood film star and actor shine so bright, but there was no denying the talent of Patel. Since then, his career has exploded with several great roles. His lead role in the science fiction film Chappie grossed $102.1 million worldwide and he was able to hold his own in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with Richard Gere and Judi Dench. His resume will be diversifying with his role this year in the Japanese animated film called Only Yesterday.
4. Dwayne Johnson
Whether you love him as WWE Wrestler, or as one of the star actors of some franchises such as The Fast and Furious’ Furious 7 there are a lot of reasons to love The Rock. It is clear Dwayne Johnson keeps movie goers rushing to get tickets, no matter what the film ends up being about. Bringing Dwayne to the roster of Fast And The Furious was an excellent idea since he has had success starring and co-starring in many action movies, so you know you can believe him as a badass. Johnson also put on a strong performance in San Andreas, leaving us to wonder what would happen if the split occurred for real! Stay tuned to the big screen this year with Dwayne and Kevin Hart in Central Intelligence, a film that will hopefully help gain both actors the acclaim they deserve.
3. Carmen Ejogo, Actress in a Supporting Role
Many people never knew about Carmen Ejogo before she starred in the movie Selma, but thankfully for her, she was outstanding in it. Before Selma, Ejogo was known as a British actress and singer. She also hosted the Saturday Disney morning show in the early 90s, and eventually made her way to America from London in order to pursue acting. After starring in the musical Sparkle with Whitney Houston, Ejogo started to become more well known. Carmen also played in the Canadian film Born to Be Blue last year that was shown at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Don’t be surprised if you see this rising star in more movies for years to come.
2. James Wan
James Wan may sound like an unpopular name in the world of Hollywood directing but he has earned his stripes as a Director for the movie Furious 7. Wan deserves serious credit for adding the 7th installment, especially when the last one left us with so much momentum. Despite taking the film and running with it as if it was a baton, and Wan, a serious Olympic athlete, he did not earn the attention of the Oscar Award committee. James is a Malaysian-born Australian film producer and screen writer. His resume list speaks to his diversity, and includes a few familiar horror movies like The Conjuring. Wan’s ability to work with seasoned actors and get the Furious 7 movie completed, especially after the unexpected passing of losing Paul Walker, shows that James Wan is here to stay in the industry.
1. John Boyega
The first time I saw John Boyega was in the movie Attack the Block 5 years ago. His leading role Moses in the British science fiction comedy-horror film was enough to make me believe that he had a bright future ahead of him. He also played the innocent and kind houseboy named Ugwu in the movie Half of a Yellow Sun that was played at the Toronto Film Festival in 2013, but nothing tops his role as a costar in the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which you might have seen). He made us laugh, our hearts kept beating and we were cheering for him to escape the spaceship in the beginning of the movie.
These entertainers may have not made the Oscar nominee list this year but they all have the world waiting for their next piece of work which makes them winners in the industry at the end of the day. Bravo to all of you and good luck!