The annual Academy Awards, and the film industry itself, have been dominated by cisgendered white men for far too long. With recent mold-breaking and empowering movements such as Time’s Up, and hashtags such as #OscarsSoWhite, minorities of all kinds are speaking out, demanding justice, and proving their talents.
At Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony, we saw history being made, as Jordan Peele is the first black person to win an Oscar for Original Screenplay, winning for his film Get Out. Tiffany Haddish even made a joke about questioning if the Oscars became “too black,” following the backlash regarding lack of minority Oscar nominations which started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in 2015. And Rachel Morrison is the first woman, and out lesbian, to be nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography, for the film Mudbound. Although these are some amazing achievements that made 2018’s Oscars one to remember, this is only the beginning. Greta Gerwig, nominated for both Original Screenplay and Directing for her film Lady Bird, was the only woman in the Directing category.
According to a 2018 report by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, a mere 8.1% of film writers and 12.6% of film directors are minorities. Only 13.8% of film writers and 6.9% of film directors are women. You do not have to be a statistical analyst to see that these numbers are low.
Despite these low numbers, 32.9 million people watched the Oscars on Sunday, which represented women and minorities more openly than past years. Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan-Mexican, and Kumail Nanjiani, a Pakistani-American, both minorities and immigrants in the film industry, gave a beautiful speech highlighting the importance of believing in yourself no matter where you come from. No dream is too big, and they are both proof of this. Frances McDormand, who wound up winning the Oscar for Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, dedicated her winning speech to not only empowering women, but by encouraging equality. As the quirky and outspoken Frances McDormand asked all of the nominated women to stand up from their chairs, there was a sense of pride and hope in the room that could be witnessed by watching the ceremony from one’s living room couch. With the freshness of the Time’s Up movement in Hollywood, which battles sexual misconduct in the workplace, having been birthed from the primarily female victims of sexual misconduct who have spoken out, the feminist energy in the room was welcomed. Although some do not like the Hollywood scene putting in their two cents when it comes to politics, Sunday night’s Oscars was uplifting and seemingly unproblematic. These stars spoke with positivity, as if voices belonging to the voiceless were emanating out from them.
People are standing up and fighting for equality, which is all good and dandy, but the numbers still need some work. So what can we do to further improve these statistics? Go to the theater and see films that promote diversity and consist of diverse casts and crews. Speak up on social media, using hashtags to encourage and critique these films. Everyone has a say, everyone has a voice; you may just not know it yet.
Check out Rachel Morrison’s inspiring interview with TIME: