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The Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices

Black Voices: The 2022 Oscar nominations lack diversity

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The Oscars are trending after releasing their list of nominees on Feb. 8. From “The Power of the Dog” to “Dune,” many Hollywood elites are receiving praise for their work – until you take a look at the demographics. 

Compared to the 2021 record of nine people of color being nominated for acting, there are only four this year. Since 2000, only 14 Academy Awards have been given to Black actors. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a pattern of leaving out marginalized actors. 

In 2015 and 2016, only white actors were seen in the nominations. Black filmmakers such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee boycotted the awards. In response, the academy promised to be more inclusive in its membership. This is why the backlash was almost immediate when the 2022 list of nominees was released. 

The category for best actress in a leading role has made it clear Black women are not being considered. Many are frustrated, considering Halle Berry is the most recent Black woman to win this award in 2002 for her role in “Monster’s Ball.”

Related: [Black Voices: Journalists of color: reporting the truth and raising awareness]

Black women have been giving captivating performances in award-winning films throughout Hollywood’s history. The academy continues to put white actors on a pedestal and disregard stories brought to life by people of color. Even movies centering on the Black community tend to sway in favor of white people. 

A frustrating example comes from 2010. Talented actresses Sandra Bullock and Gabourey Sidibe were in the nominations for best actress in a leading role. Sidibe for the movie “Precious” and Bullock for “The Blind Side.” Both were compelling performances, but the latter put the focus on a white woman being a hero in a story about a Black man. The academy awarded the white actress, Sandra Bullock.

Jennifer Hudson, who starred as Aretha Franklin in “Respect” this past year, was nowhere to be found on the list. Her performance was historic, considering Aretha Franklin chose her to play the part. 

“Jennifer Hudson stuns with her performance singing and inhabiting the life of musical royalty,” an article from USA Today stated.

Yet, she has no nomination.

Hudson is a big name in Hollywood, and she won an Oscar in 2007 for her supporting role in “Dreamgirls.” The lack of recognition has audiences concerned. In a film about a legendary Black woman, she’s the lead role and deserves to be recognized.

Oscar Awards have jumpstarted careers. Character actors like Olivia Colman and J.K. Simmons used their victories to earn more roles. Viola Davis received a nomination for “The Help” in 2012, and her career took off shortly after. 

The general reaction is to be disappointed but not surprised. The academy’s attitude towards talented Black women is going against the tide of progression in Hollywood. White people once again take the stage, while Black actors watch from the audience.

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