Academy Awards don’t dictate minority talent

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Every actor nominated in a best acting category is white, with no minority actors included. | Tamor Khan/The Cougar

Over half a century ago, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech that continues to echo. Segregation no longer remains, to the naked eye, that is.

Instead, traces remain, showing us how much more work still must be done to bring about true equality.

History was once again repeated by The Academy despite the viral 2015 #OscarsSoWhite hash tag. Regardless of the backlash and criticism, the same problem remains.

The demographic of the Oscar votes, being 94 percent white and 76 percent male, seems to override the voice of artists who do not fall in the same category.

“Change is not coming as fast as we like,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Issacs. “We need to do more and better and more quickly.”

Despite the fact that movies like “Straight Out of Compton” and “Creed” garnered the hearts of many, as proven by the box office, The Academy is seemingly unimpressed based on the number of nominations these films received. Even more noteworthy was how those who contributed to these projects that earned the major Academy nominations were also white and male.

UCLA’s 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report noted how 94 percent of the film studio heads were white, while 100 percent were male.

Based on these statistics, it is no surprise that such is the outcome the Film Industry.

As someone who religiously watches the Academy Awards every year, I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who win or get nominated.

It is time that we learn to accept the current situation as it is. Let it motivate us to work even harder to chase our dreams.

As a minority who dreamed of becoming an artist, I understand the unique hardships that stand before us.

Most of us endure the heavy concern and criticism from friends and family while pursuing a seemingly unrealistic dream. On top of that, the success stories presented to instill confidence in us are highly minimal.

When we look out in the real world, it may seem as if our ethnic background, gender or even sexual orientation only hinder our ability to succeed.

That is why we must look within ourselves for the validation we need. Even though lack of diversity is a problem, the enemy does not lie in the Academy Award voters, the film studio heads, or even those who refuse to support us.

It lies within us.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, actress Jada Pinkett Smith released a Facebook video. In it, she said “begging for acknowledgment diminishes dignity, and it diminishes power.”

That only means we must learn to provide ourselves with the acknowledgment and credibility we need to continue treading along the path of an artist, regardless of what the outcome may be.

“You have to detach yourself from the result,” actress Constance Wu said. Following that motto, she won the leading role in Fresh off the Boat and was nominated for the 2016 Critic’s Choice Television Award.

The approval of our family members, society and those who award us is not something we can control. The only thing we can control is the work we do and how much effort we put into it. Our focus, as artists, must remain solely on the creation rather than the reception.

Opinion columnist Kirshna Narra is a marketing senior and may be reached at [email protected]


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