2016 was a bad year for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. For the second year in a row, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trended, after Oscar nominations in the top four categories went exclusively to white actors. In 2017, things are looking up. Moonlight, Hidden Figures, and Fences, which feature an array of African-American actors, as well as Lion, which is set in India, are among the nominees for best picture. Denzel Washington, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis, Dev Patel, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali are nominated for acting awards.
Laurence Fishburne is pleased with the progress. The actor, an Oscar nominee in 1995 for What’s Love Got to Do With It, discussed the current crop of nominations with Yahoo Movies. “I think it’s great that, you know, everybody that’s been nominated has been nominated,” he said. “And I think it’s great that we don’t have to make noise about people being excluded, and I hope that that continues.”
As many have noted, the Academy can’t recognize diversity if it doesn’t include a diverse set of films. Fishburne wants the trend of inclusivity to continue. “I hope that the industry continues to tell stories that reflect the world that we live in, which includes all people,” he said.
It certainly seems that there is work left to do. Movies about and by black Americans are getting more attention, but many groups are still underrepresented — Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and LGBTQIA communities are just a few with little to no presence among this year’s Oscar nominees.
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