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When the nominations for the Academy Awards were announced last week, all of the acting awards had one thing in common. It was a monochrome list of white people. This has frustrated a number of people who are taking the Academy to task for a lack of diversity. There were a number of African-American actors and filmmakers whose contributions were ignored. At the top of that list is the team that put together Straight Outta Compton and while producer Will Packer is obviously not happy that his film was so overlooked, he’s mainly concerned with the way the Academy looks overall, because the lack of diversity simply doesn’t make the Academy look legitimate.
Will Packer, an executive producer on Straight Outta Compton, took to his Facebook page to discuss the all-white slate of acting nominees and to call out a number of black filmmakers who he says were "at the top of their game" this year, including: Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler of Creed and Idris Elba of Beasts of No Nation among several others. According to Packer, the primary reason that the Academy's lack of diversity is so bad is because it makes the organization look completely out of touch.
To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period. The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it's a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat—it's embarrassing. It's unfair to the performers of color who sacrificed so much, laid it all on the line AND DELIVERED with their projects this year. It's also unfair to the white actors, writers, producers and directors who gave everything they had to create career-defining content only to have it marred by the fact that a lack of diversity calls into question the legitimacy of The Academy's choices.
It’s not only the Oscars that Packer takes to task however. He also calls out the filmmakers and the studios that need to create more diverse content so that there is more potential for diverse nominees in the future. Will Packer points out that the system that lead to the 2016 Oscar nominees was set in motion years ago when all these various projects were first begun. In order for things to change, they have to change at the beginning of the process.
The very white list of Oscar nominees led to the return of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on social media and has caused some black filmmakers like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee, who received an honorary Oscar from the Academy in November, to announce they will boycott the awards show.