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How diverse are the 2023 Oscar nominations?

After criticism, the award show appears to be moving to recognize the talents of a wider variety of ethnicities but leaves room for improvement.

After criticism, the award show appears to be moving to recognize the talents of a wider variety of ethnicities but leaves room for improvement.

In the years since Hattie McDaniel became the first person of color to win an Oscar in 1940, the Academy Awards has shown steady improvement in nominating more diverse talent, but that change has been slow.

Even though a number of non-white actors and filmmakers have won Oscars, the number still pales in comparison to white filmmakers, who make up 86% of the total number of nominees in the award show’s almost 100-year history.

This year’s Oscar nominees show diversity, as seen in the acting talent of actresses such as Michelle Yeoh and Ana de Armas both up for Best Actress. Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, and Angela Basset are all nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Brian Tyree Henry and Ke Huy Quan are the only non-white nominees for Best Supporting Actor.

Meanwhile, no non-white actors are nominated for Best Actor, and no female directors were nominated for Best Director.

The Twitter tag that inspired change at the Academy

Media strategist April Reign took to Twitter to voice her criticism of the Oscar’s overwhelming white nominees and winners in 2015. She began the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, with many people of color in the film industry using the hashtag using humor to address the serious lack of diversity at the Oscars.

But when the 2016 Oscar nominees were announced, showing again, a greater number of white actors and filmmakers, the hashtag became popular again. The Academy responded by saying they would make changes in the lack of representation in their members to address the lack of diversity in nominees.

By 2020, the Academy announced that they had surpassed their goals. The Academy was now made up of 45% women, 36% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49% international members from 68 countries now in their ranks.

A slow change toward wider representation

In the years since #OscarsSoWhite was trending in 2015 and 2016, the percentage of underrepresented ethnicities and communities making up Oscar nominations has increased by 17%, according to a University of California study. Despite this, throughout the Oscar’s 95-year history, only 6% of nominees have been people of color. Only 17% of nominees have been women, and women of color represent 2% of nominees.

And although voter representation now houses a greater representation of underrepresented people than it did before 2020, according to an Insider report, 89% of nominations in the top categories at the Oscars have gone to white nominees, with 71.1% going to men.


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