Prompted by the #OscarsSoWhite movement, a growing number of people, including some celebrities, have called for the entertainment industry to increase the representation of women, minorities and other disadvantaged communities on screens large and small. Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has vocalized a new commitment to diversifying its membership, the fight to hold broader Hollywood accountable continues.
#OscarsSoWhite: Full coverage of the boycott and Hollywood’s reaction
As the Academy Awards air Sunday, a number of parties want to make sure it’s known that the call for greater diversity isn’t just a trending topic. Here’s a list of how people are boycotting, protesting or otherwise bypassing the industry’s biggest night:
Live-tweeting of “The Wood”
April Reign, a former attorney and managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com, created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite and has been leading the diversity charge — online and otherwise — ever since. For the second year, she is encouraging audiences to boycott the Academy Awards telecast by watching and live-tweeting 1999’s “The Wood,” available on Netflix.
“Don’t reward the #Oscars telecast w/ your viewership … if stories featuring you aren’t being shown on the big screen,” she tweeted last week.
For those not wanting to watch “The Wood,” which stars Omar Epps and Taye Diggs, Reign made clear that the goal is to show collective unity in affecting the ratings of the Oscars telecast — so, watch what you will, just not the Academy Awards. She’d like to get #OscarsSoWhite trending during the telecast as it did last year.
This follows a similar plan she helped initiate last year where folks were encouraged to live-tweet “Coming to America.” The 2015 Oscars telecast was the lowest rated in six years, and Reign believes the movement had something to do with that.
“As we have been doing, let’s send a message to Hollywood by using the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag Sunday night,” Reign tweeted. “The time for change is now.”
Project Islamic Hope protest
A coalition of Los Angeles civil rights groups, led by activist Najee Ali, is slated to have a physical protest outside of the Dolby Theatre on Sunday. Ali, director of Project Islamic Hope, along with members of the National Action Network, Los Angeles Urban League and Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, will be at the corner of Highland Avebye and Sunset Boulevard starting at 2 p.m.
Ali said that the event, with Chris Rock as host, perpetuates a number of racial stereotypes when black talent aren’t otherwise recognized.
“It sends a message that an African American host can entertain us and African American talent can participate by being presenters, but no African Americans are worthy of a nomination,” he said in a statement. “The job of African American talent at the ceremony is to entertain and present white people their Oscars. Why should our black elite just be on hand to give the white elite their Oscar awards?”
Ali said the protest would be followed by a number of efforts aimed at Hollywood studios and a “system that still has roots of racism and sexism,” he said.
“It’s critical that we continue our fight to increase diversity and opportunities for women, the LGBT community and all minorities,” Ali said.
National Action Network founder and leader Al Sharpton will be in attendance following two sermons at local churches. Rallies are also planned in Cleveland, Detroit, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
Black ribbons and armbands
For those opting to attend the ceremony — if they were invited — Ali and the National Action Network have encouraged them to wear black ribbons or armbands to symbolize their support for a more diverse Hollywood.
Ribbons, and buttons, are often the way awards show attendees show support or advocate for certain causes. At last year’s Emmys, green ribbons (with the words “Demand Climate Action”) were worn by some supporting President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change. At the Golden Globes the same year, stars wore and held “Je Suis Charlie” buttons and signs following the terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Also joining the ribbon bandwagon are a number of prominent Latinos in the industry. Actress Eva Longoria and others supportive of the Brown Ribbon Campaign will be wearing ribbons to bring attention to the lack of Latino representation in academy membership and in the entertainment industry.
“I can’t wait for the day when ‘diversity’ isn’t just the hot topic of the moment, but a true reality that is reflected on screen,” said Longoria in a statement. “The change is coming and I am happy to be a part of it.”
The campaign also asks supporters to tweet their support during the Oscars telecast using the hashtags #HollywoodBrownout and #BrownRibbonCampaign. The National Hispanic Media Coalition will also promote and feature brown ribbons at its annual Impact Awards Gala on Friday.
“Creed” director Ryan Coogler and “Selma” director Ava DuVernay will be in Flint, Mich., for a benefit aimed at supporting that city’s beleaguered residents as they suffer through an ongoing water crisis. Celebrities including singers Janelle Monae and Ledisi, actor Jesse Williams and comedian Hannibal Buress will also attend the event put on by Coogler’s artist-activist collective Blackout for Human Rights.
Though the event is happening on the same day as the Oscars, Coogler told Buzzfeed that the timing was merely coincidental. He said the date was chosen because it’s the final weekend of Black History Month.
“Creed” has been at the center of much of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, even though Sylvester Stallone landed a nomination for his role.
All Def Movie Awards
Media mogul Russell Simmons threw his own awards ceremony called the All Def Movie Awards — borrowing its name from his All Def Digital platform. The event was hosted by comedian Tony Rock (yes, he’s Chris Rock’s brother) at Hollywood’s Lure Nightclub. It was taped and will air on Fusion — opposite the Oscars — on Sunday starting at 7 p.m. EST and re-air throughout the night.
The event was far from what one can expect at the Academy Awards, as most of the categories for the show were in jest — best helpful white person, best black survivor, etc. But that’s exactly how Simmons envisioned it.
“It’s not a protest,” he said during the taping. “It’s a celebration, a celebration of people who otherwise would not be celebrated.”
But it was also a comment on #OscarsSoWhite and the broader lack of diversity in Hollywood.
“It’s a shame because whenever I talk about animal rights, civil rights, Islamophobia, homophobia or any of that, there’s that Hollywood liberal [expletive],” Simmons said. “And here we are, with the most compassionate group of activists on the planet, and still we live in the most segregated place on the planet — Hollywood.”
A number of notable names were in attendance, including Ice Cube and son O’Shea Jackson Jr. of “Straight Outta Compton,” model Amber Rose and actors Marlon Wayans, Sanaa Lathan and Terry Crews.
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