The Oscars’ New Diversity Rules Opening Doors, but how much?

·3 min read

Transgender Actress Maliyah Londyn casted in And They Called Her Paradisa.

Meant to take effect in 2024 by the 96th Oscars, the new Oscar Diversity Guidelines will necessitate films to meet two of four diversity criterions to be eligible for the best-picture nomination. The benefit of such a rule is to initiative studios to enact more equitable hiring practices and be able to expand the choice of stories that are told.

Surprisingly, the announcement has sent shock waves throughout Hollywood. Remarkably, for an industry that is trendsetting and an advocate for diversity this should have become the standard a long time ago. Too often Hollywood films don’t cast appropriately, this example became unmistakable with Ridley Scott’s Exodus: God and Kings 2014, telling the story of Moses was populated by an almost completely Caucasian cast, once again whitewashing Bible films. Scott explained, “I can’t mount a film of this budget and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such… I’m just not going to get financed.”

The first set of Oscar stipulations, grouped as Standard A, is meant to encourage diversity in front of the camera, only one of these three criteria needs to be met:

  • At least one actor from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group must be cast in a significant role.

  • The story must center on women, L.G.T.B.Q. people, a racial or ethnic group or the disabled.

  • At least 30 percent of the cast must be actors from at least two of those four underrepresented categories.

With these conditions becoming the new normal, another standard that needs to be considered is studios that are minority owned that don’t get the recognition or notice because of their stories. If the new rule just facilitates hiring methods, but not changing the infrastructure of Hollywood then it’s only satisfying a quota, which would be a shame.

Take Tyler Perry Studios for example or the first Latina and Hispanic film studio in Chicago Ave Fenix Pictures Studios founded by Monica Esmeralda Leon. Would any of their film slates be on Hollywood’s radar?

European Director Marius Iliescu directed and casted And They Called Her Paradisa.

For instance, Ave Fenix Pictures Studios new film ‘And They Called Her Paradisa,’ directed by admired European director Marius Iliescu who casted the leading actress, an African American transgender woman named Maliyah Londyn, a model and performer at the SteppenWolf Theater. The film follows her character, a transgender prostitute who is abused on the streets and taken in by a career criminal who nurtures her back to health, played be multi-racial actor Zachary Laoutides. Will any of this diversity and news be on the Hollywood radar…? From a studio who has never needed the first set of stipulations to begin with, from a studio that always performed what is the new normal…?

There is optimism that Hollywood can change, but maybe ‘change’ means letting those whom they aspire to include actually take the lead as they can genuinely teach showbiz how to move forward in faithful diversity, not just satisfying quota for award season.

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