Oscars Recognize The Excellence of Diverse Content

Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Andra Day in 'The United States vs. Billie Holiday' (Image credit: Hulu)

In 2015 the entertainment industry called out the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences after none of the Academy Awards’ 20 acting nominations went to people of color. The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag became a rallying cry for greater inclusion and recognition of performances by and content from women and people of color.

While some may argue that this year’s crop of 2021 Oscar nominations snubbed many quality and arguably deserving and diverse film performances (Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods most notable), there’s no doubt that the Academy has made some strides with regards to inclusiveness, and presented one of its most diverse list of nominees ever.

Nearly half of the Academy’s acting nominations went to people of color this year, including three actors of Asian descent: two for best lead actor (Sound of Metal’s Riz Ahmed and Minari’s Steven Yeun) and one for best supporting actress (Minari’s Yuh-Jung Youn). In addition, six Black actors were nominated for acting awards: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’s Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman; The United States vs. Billie Holiday’s Andra Day; One Night in Miami’s Leslie Odom Jr. and Judas and the Black Messiah’s LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya.

Davis’s best actress nomination for her performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was her fourth acting nomination, the most for any Black actress.

Behind the camera, Chloe Zhao’s best director nomination for her work on Nomadland is the first for a woman of color in the category. Overall, a reported 70 women received a whopping 76 Oscar nominations, a remarkable and precedent-setting achievement.

In a pandemic-influenced year that featured an expanded Oscar field that for the first time included cinema-targeted movies that debuted first on streaming services along with theatrically-released films, diversity and inclusion was the big winner. 

Multichannel News will explore the topic of diversity and inclusion in front and behind the camera as well as in the C-suites a part of its March 16 Culture X Conversations virtual conference,  which will feature insights from television and media leaders who are engaged in diversifying their workspace as well as content they produce so that its inclusive of those who identify by their ethnicity, nationality, language, special needs or sexual orientation. To register, click here.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.