The Academy Is Reportedly Looking for Black Presenters to Combat Oscars Diversity Criticism


The Academy is reportedly working really hard behind the scenes to ‘diversify’ the faces you see during the telecast before it goes live next month.

While they can’t magically add diverse faces to the nominees, according to reports the producers are looking to add black presenters to give out top awards — including Best Picture.

via Page Six:

“The Oscars are looking for a black celebrity to give out the Best Picture award,” one source said of the buzz out in Hollywood. The insider added, “Names they are talking about include Oprah Winfrey and Morgan Freeman.”

Another name on the academy’s list had been Will Smith, sources said. But the “Concussion” actor revealed Thursday on “Good Morning America” he’ll join his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in boycotting the show. The academy is under fire for failing to nominate any black actor for the second year in a row.

“We’re uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK,” Smith told Robin Roberts, before joking, “My wife’s not going. It would be awkward to show up with Charlize [Theron].”

Music legend Quincy Jones revealed on Wednesday he was approached to be a presenter with Pharrell Williams and rapper Common. But he said, “I’m going to ask [them] to let me speak for five minutes on the lack of diversity. If not, I’m not going to [present].”

Mark Ruffalo — who’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “Spotlight” — said Thursday he was debating a boycott before backpedaling. “I’m weighing it,” he said in a BBC interview about possibly not attending the Feb. 28 show. “If you look at Martin Luther King’s legacy .?.?. the good people who don’t act are much worse than the wrongdoers who are [purposely] not acting, and don’t know the right way.” He later tweeted, “To clear up any confusion. I will be going to the Oscars in support of the victims of clergy sexual abuse and [in support of] good journalism.” His movie centers on a church sex scandal.

While Spike Lee, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent have urged a boycott, Whoopi Goldbergsaid that isn’t fair to host Chris Rock. “To boycott him seems just as bad,” she said this week.

A rep for the awards didn’t get back to us, and reps for both Winfrey and Freeman said they have not heard of any offers to present.

If you see a lot more black faces during the ceremony this year, now you know why.

In related news, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs sent out a press release detailing the official plans to double “women and diverse members of the Academy” by 2020.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade.  In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.  We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members.  In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria.  Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status.  Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting.  This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

At the same time, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.  

In order to immediately increase diversity on the Board of Governors, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.

The Academy will also take immediate action to increase diversity by adding new members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made. This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.


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