Academy President ‘Heartbroken and Frustrated’ by Lack of Diversity at Oscars

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is facing its second straight year of racial controversy after the nominations for the Academy Awards resulted in yet another year of all-white acting nominees. As a result, several stars, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Honorary Oscar recipient Spike Lee, have called for a boycott of the 2016 Oscars.

In response, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs released an official statement to address the lack of diversity among the nominees, while also attempting to tactfully find a way to explain it, in a way. It’s a fascinating read, if nothing else. The statement:

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. 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. 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. 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.

Ultimately, I think the statement was a noble move, if nothing else. It’s going to be hard to satisfy everyone with a statement like this, since the issue of inclusion still remains, and it’s not as if the problem goes away simply by addressing that it’s something they’re trying to change. But addressing that it’s something that needs changing is significant, and having that statement come from the Academy president, who is a black woman herself, is similarly momentous. Of course, I’m not sure what, exactly, it’ll mean to the nomination process, since that is ultimately out of Isaacs’s hands.

What do you think of the Oscars race drama? Are there legit concerns? Is it being blown out of proportion? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on the 2016 Oscars, check out the full list of nominations for the 88th Academy Awards!

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