A Look at Diversity
During Awards Season

picture of an Oscar

The energy surrounding the Hollywood awards season has changed since its inception, especially in the past few years.  The red carpet and the stage have become a platform where hosts, presenters, and attendees voice their opinions and take a stand on current political and societal events, intensifying the atmosphere with a political tone.

The Hollywood elite are speaking out, in part due to the viewer’s demands. In the past few years, there has been a spotlight on one of the greatest problems in Hollywood—diversity, or the lack thereof. Hollywood in general, and specifically its awards season, have been whitewashed and male-dominated. The only woman to have received an Academy Award for best direction was Barbra Streisand in 1984. Sadly, it shouldn’t be surprising that these institutions were affected by systemic oppression. The Oscars themselves were introduced in 1929, decades before African Americans were guaranteed the right to vote with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But it isn't an excuse for the continued lack of diversity in the voting panels or the nominations. Many of these organization have made significant strides to diversify their voting panels by including more women and people of color.  

When Moonlight, a film following the life of a queer black boy growing up in the Miami projects, won an Oscar for best picture last year, it seemed like the tide had turned. Was this a sign that Hollywood was becoming more diverse and accepting? Possibly, but following the 2017-2018 Golden Globes kicking off the start of this year’s award season, it’s still uncertain, probably unlikely. 

Following the #MeToo and the Times Up movements, the Golden Globes were politically charged, as attendees donned all black in support and with many bringing activists as their plus ones. But even with the microscopic attention on Hollywood and its inclusion of women and people of color, there were still evident shortcomings. 

Many viewers took to social media to point out the lack of diversity in the best actress nominations as well as a notable snub of Jordan Peele’s direction of Get Out. Natalie Portman called out the Hollywood Foreign Press for their failure to include any women in the category of best director. Viewers are left questioning what are the merits for best films, actors, directors—what do voting panels utilize to determine winners? Is it that all the best directors this year were all male because their craft was simply better, or was it an unconscious or conscious bias? 

What is promising is that audiences are demanding diversity, and the Hollywood elite are creating dialogue about inclusion and representation. While it is accurate to say that the awards shows have come a long way since their inception, it isn’t exactly fair to leave progress at that statement. These shows and the organizations behind them have a far way to go to attempt to erase the longstanding exclusion of people of color and women. 

 With the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, and SAG Awards behind us, February holds the BAFTA Awards, and the Oscars will premiere in the beginning of March. It will be interesting to see if the climate of these award shoes will follow in the footsteps of the Globes, and if there will be more diverse nominees and winners.

Written by Sophie Wong
Sophie Wong is a second year student studying strategic communications, writing, and French.  She loves writing, films, and a good conversation.