When the folks behind the Academy Awards announced that they were taking a progressive step toward addressing diversity, we were cheering along with the rest of the movie-lovin’ world. Seemingly determined to take on the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, celebs including Priyanka Chopra and Terry Crews have now responded to these steps toward inclusivity. However, many others declined to comment.
Entertainment Weekly talked with a handful of new Academy members — Priyanka Chopra, Phylicia Rashad, Rinko Kikuchi, Aldis Hodge, Sanaa Lathan, Terry Crews, Colman Domingo, and Anna Deavere — and asked them to share their thoughts on everything from the Academy’s responsibility when it comes to inclusion to what movies we might see nominated this year. And these industry power-players were certainly ready to chat.
“While the numbers have their own story to tell, I think it’s important to recognize that progress is being made. It’s going to take some time to correct, but continuous efforts always help,” Chopra said. Sanaa Lathan (The Best Man, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show) added, “Clearly the message has been heard, and the Academy is making changes slowly because it’s an institution that has been predominantly male and white for many years. It has to be carefully transitioned into what the new Academy is going to be. It can’t just happen overnight. I applaud them for making these initiatives a priority.”
However, Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Expendables) revealed that the response hasn’t been completely positive, saying, “I’ve been seeing a little bit of a backlash, which was expected. People feel like the Academy is being watered down [with this class]. With a change, there are going to be people who are unhappy, people who like things the way they’ve been done… With the phrase ‘watered down,’ it reminds me of when Jackie Robinson entered baseball when they wouldn’t let black players play… When you include everyone in sports, the sport gets better. When you include everyone in filmmaking and storytelling and writing, the creations get better.”
While it’s obvious that there’s still a ways to go when it comes to total diversity and acceptance, these efforts will certainly be worth it if movies like Get Out receive the recognition they deserve. Many new members mentioned Get Out as likely to get nomination nods this year, with other contenders included Wonder Woman and The Beguiled. We’ll just have to wait and see how accurate these new Academy members are when next year’s nominations roll around.
While these particular actors were ready and willing to share their opinions on the current situation, as well as what we might see in the future, it’s also interesting to note that EW apparently reached out to “numerous” new Academy members and revealed, “Many declined to be a part of this story and several others did not respond to our request for comment.”
Do you think we’ll see a difference in next year’s Oscars nominations as a result of the Academy’s efforts to be more inclusive? Let us know @BritandCo!
(h/t EW; photos via Michael Loccisano/Getty, Warner Bros.)