Film Forward

This Year's Academy Award Nominations Mark A Step Forward For Diversity After #OscarsSoWhite

But there's still work to be done.

For the past two years, the Academy Awards have nominated only White actors. Last year, this lack of diversity re-ignited the social media hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, and a boycott of the ceremony by big names in the industry such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee

The Academy responded to the controversy by vowing to double the number of women and minority members by the year 2020. In the meantime, this year's more diverse Golden Globe nominees had us hopeful that the Oscars would follow suit, and we're happy to report that they have.

This year's nominees, which were announced this morning, include seven non-White actors — the same seven who were nominated at the Golden Globes. This reportedly ties the record set in 2007. It's also the first time in Oscar history that Black actors have been nominated in all four categories.

Ruth Negga was nominated for Best Actress for Loving.

Denzel Washington was nominated for Best Actor for Fences.

The Best Supporting Actress category includes three women of color: Viola Davis for Fences, Naomie Harris for Moonlight, and Octavia Spencer for Hidden Figures.

The Best Supporting Actor category includes two non-White actors: Mahershala Ali for Moonlight and Dev Patel for Lion.

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Additionally, several nominees for Best Picture focus on people of color (Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Moonlight), and four non-White directors were nominated for Best Documentary Feature. It's also worth noting that Moana, the first Disney film to feature a Polynesian heroine, was nominated for two awards — including a nod for Latino songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda.

This is definite progress, but there is still work to be done. Once again, men make up the overwhelming majority of behind-the-scenes nominees (including all five contenders for Best Director), and non-Black minorities also remain underrepresented.

More diversity among the Academy's members is a good start, but the film industry also has to start telling more diverse stories and giving opportunities to non-White, non-male professionals, both in front of and behind the camera. After all, you can't be nominated for a job that you don't have or a film that doesn't exist.

The good news is that several segments of the film industry are taking steps to encourage diversity. The BAFTAs, also known as the British Oscars, recently announced that they would be introducing diversity standards for awards eligibility, and the Sundance Film Festival is continuing its efforts to provide opportunities to emerging filmmakers from underrepresented groups. The box office success of Hidden Figures should also be a sign to Hollywood that movies about women and people of color can and do make money.

There will hopefully come a time in the near future when we no longer have to count the number of women and minorities who are nominated — they'll just be there.

Check out the video below for more on the nominations:

Cover image via YouTubeFeatureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock, Inc.

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