By Saara Lampwalla
With the entertainment industry’s advancement in technology, content and innovation, why are its professionals limited to a select gender and ethnicity?
The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the phenomenon by referencing this year’s Academy Awards. Of all 35 people nominated for acting, writing or directing awards, only one was not white. More than half of the nominees were men.
The entertainment industry has grown to mirror a contemporary culture that appreciates diverse, controversial and thoughtful content, but it’s not entirely faultless.
When TV and film appeared in the 20th century, programs were limited to all-white casts and production teams. However, as time passed and culture changed, the industry’s constituencies broadened. Now minority groups such as those of color and the female gender are included. But entertainment professionals are still largely white and male.
These patterns extend to other branches of the industry, including writing and directing.
Actor and CPP alumnus Forest Whitaker was the last non-white actor to win an Oscar for his role in “The Last King of Scotland” in 2007. Last year, Lupita Nyong’o, a Kenyan female actress, won an Oscar for her supporting role in “12 Years a Slave.”
Contemporary media does reflect the presence of minority groups. However, statistics show that their white counterparts overshadow them. Additionally, when people of color or women are cast in acting roles, they play roles that follow stereotypes.
An industry that has a codependent relationship with those who it provides for isn’t taking care to represent the members of it. This is problematic for the whole community.
While the industry’s perspective has faltered in the public eye, its influence has not. People are affected by the content that the entertainment industry puts out ” in obvious and obscure ways.
When young men and women of color see that white people are the only ones who win awards, they may assume that the industry is for select kinds of people and be discouraged from pursuing careers in it.
Several Academy Award members claim that they aim to celebrate film. While promoting diversity is important to them, identifying good products and its creators is the priority. Other members argue that The Academy should represent the community that it serves.
Is the phenomenon purely innocent? Is it chance that the Academy’s best actors, writers and directors are white? Or is this a reflection of the exclusivity of the industry?
It’s difficult to answer these questions and provide solutions to the deep-rooted cultural problem. But talking about it helps raise awareness about the issue and work towards a resolution.
Monica Lopez / The Poly Post
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