Maybe #OscarsSoWhite won’t trend for a third year in a row. More than 600 new voting members, many of them artists of color, have been added to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ roster.
“We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement.
New members include Ice Cube, whose “Straight Outta Compton” was among the projects and casts seen as snubbed last go-round; Tessa Thompson and her “Creed” co-star Michael B. Jordan (Sylvester Stallone won a best-supporting Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Creed”); Chadwick Boseman, who portrayed James Brown in “Get On Up” and is set to star in a future Marvel movie, “Blank Panther;” Vivica A. Fox, Gabrielle Union, Anika Noni Rose, Damon Wayans, Jr., Mahershala Ali, Anthony Anderson, Loretta Devine and John Boyega.
“This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today,” Boone Isaacs said. “We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”
The lack of diversity among nominations became a main theme of this year’s awards event.
Chris Rock pulled no punches as Oscars host.
“I’m here at the Academy Awards, otherwise known as the White People’s Choice Awards,” his opening monologue began. “This is the wildest, craziest Oscars to ever host. We’ve got all this controversy.”
The evening featured a satirical segment on “films reimagined with black actors,” a “Black History Month Minute” that honored Jack Black (get it?) and the introduction of actress and conservative pundit Stacey Dash – who has sparked controversy by criticizing BET and calling for an end to Black History Month – as the “director of minority outreach.”
The lack of diversity led some to urge Oscars boycotts. Actor and recording artist Tyrese Gibson said Rock should have refused to host: “There is no joke he can crack, there is no way he can seize the moment. The statement that you make is you step down.”
“Compton,” the powerful drama about the rap group N.W.A. was nominated for best original screenplay (“Spotlight” won) but didn’t draw a best-picture nod or any best acting nominations. Ice Cube, whose son portrayed him in the film, wasn’t upset.
“I was so proud of my son and so proud of us to get that movie done – I wasn’t worried about no Oscars, to be honest,” he said during a visit to Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. “The fans loved the movie, people loved the movie all over the world. To me that’s what it was about. It wasn’t about the Oscar.”