Back in 2015, April Reign coined the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite after the nomination list was announced and people of color were once again nomination list was announced. Reign said incremental changes in Hollywood have begun under the leadership of former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a Vanity Fair OpEd. Isaacs promised to double the number of women and people of color in the Academy’s membership by 2020 and change Academy voting rules to allow for more diverse nominees.
Reign argues these changes have finally begun to have an effect. In the cinematography category, Rachel Morrison became the first female director of photography to be nominated for Mudbound. In the adapted-screenplay category, Des Rees is the first black woman to be nominated for her Mudbound script. Greta Gerwig became the fifth woman to be nominated for directing Lady Bird.
But #OscarsSoWhite remains valid as studios still consider it risky to staff films with women and people of color, even though trends in box-office success and critical acclaim has recently proven that inclusion sells. Reign points out that Get Out was the most successful film last year and achieved critical success including four Oscar nominations. Crazy Rich Asians was a hugely successful film, but was shut out of best picture. In fact, no Asian actors received nominations this year according to USA Today.
Creative Artists Agency released findings that stated the more inclusive the film is, the more money it makes. Black Panther, for instance, has earned more than $763 million. While 40% of the U.S. population identifies as non-white, only 20% of the acting nominations went to people of color this year. The audience for these films is an increasingly more diverse one, and the screen should be able to reflect that trend.