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Oscar nominations: Lack of diversity in acting categories echoes last year's controversy

“It matters that we pay attention to, again, the diversity of voice and opinion and experience, and that it doesn't slide, it doesn't slide anywhere except for forward, " she said. "And maybe this year [in 2015] is more just about let's kick it in even more.”

The last acting category that had not been won by a person of color reached that milestone in 2002, when Halle Berry won the prize for her work in the film “Monster’s Ball.”

The announcement of the nominees comes after a year in which actress Viola Davis became the first actress of color to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama. Davis addressed diversity in the entertainment business during her Emmys acceptance speech. “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity, ” she said at the time. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

While there is always further to go in matters such as these, a GLAAD report released at the end of 2015 showed that there had been an increase in diversity on broadcast TV during both the 2015-2016 TV seasons and the 2014-2015 TV seasons. GLAAD noted that the number of series regular characters who are black on broadcast TV is the highest it’s been since GLAAD began measuring such data.

GLAAD pointed to NBC as leading in this achievement, with new shows like “Superstore, ” “Telenovela, ” and “Shades of Blue” aiding NBC in reaching number one.

If a diverse show achieves success, Brown says, other networks’ reactions will be, “Get me the next one.”

As for the Oscars nominees, we will no doubt continue to see the effect the lack of diversity among the acting nominees will have in terms of the perception of the Academy. A member of the acting branch of the academy told the Los Angeles Times anonymously, “I don't see how you can nominate another group that doesn't include any actor of color and think you'll be taken seriously.”

What can be done to combat this problem? Professor of critical studies at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts Todd Boyd echoed Davis’s comments.

“There can't be many nominees until people are given the opportunity in prominent, meaningful roles, " Boyd said. "The Oscars are the end of the line. When those opportunities come at the front end, then the nominations will probably flow accordingly. And if they don't, then you'll really have a pushback.”

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Oscar nominations
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