Lupita Nyong’o “Disappointed” by Lack of Diversity Among the 2016 Oscar Nominees: “I Stand With My Peers”
The more people speak up, the louder the message gets.
Lupita Nyong’o is the latest celebrity to address the lack of diversity being represented at the 2016 Oscars. Echoing statements made by George Clooney, Idris Elba, Whoopi Goldberg, Spike Lee, David Oyelowo, Jada Pinkett Smith, the 12 Years a Slave star—who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2013—took to Instagram Tuesday to discuss this year’s all-white nominees.
“I am disappointed by the lack of inclusion in this year’s Academy Awards nominations. It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture. The Awards should not dictate the terms of art in our modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today,” she wrote. “I stand with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them.”
Nyong’o, 32, also shared a quote from novelist James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
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The actress, who most recently played Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and next voices Raksha in The Jungle Book, has often addressed the industry’s diversity problem. At Essence‘s 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood event, for example, she discussed why representation matters. Seeing women who looked like her making a splash in the media, like supermodel Alek Wek, helped Nyong’o learn to embrace her dark skin. “When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty,” she said at the February 2014 luncheon. Nyong’o concluded her speech by telling the audience she hopes her “presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.”
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This is the second consecutive year that actors of color have been ignored by the Academy; Lee and Pinkett Smith are refusing to attend this year’s ceremony.
Even Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs addressed the organization’s diversity issue late Monday. “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees,” she said in a statement. “While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”
“The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership,” Boone Isaacs said. “In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond. “As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”
“This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy,” she said. “In the ’60s and ’70s, it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.”
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