Thursday 29 September 2016

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o 'disappointed' at 'lack of inclusion' in Oscars

Published 20/01/2016 | 09:55

Actress Lupita Nyong'o paired her Calvin Klein gown with Chopard diamonds. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/Files
Actress Lupita Nyong'o paired her Calvin Klein gown with Chopard diamonds. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/Files

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o has expressed her disappointment about the "lack of inclusion" in this year's Oscar nominations.

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The Academy has been subject to criticism and calls for a boycott over its all-white line-up of acting nominees, with its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, now pledging "big changes" to bring about "much-needed diversity".

Nyong'o, who won the gong for Best Supporting Actress in 2013 for her role in 12 Years A Slave, wrote on Instagram: "I am disappointed by the lack of inclusion in this year's Academy Awards nominations.

"It has me thinking about unconscious prejudice and what merits prestige in our culture."

She added: "The awards should not dictate the terms of art in our modern society, but rather be a diverse reflection of the best of what our art has to offer today.

"I stand with my peers who are calling for change in expanding the stories that are told and recognition of the people who tell them."

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have both announced they will not be attending the ceremony.

Lee said he "cannot support" the "lily white" Oscars, while Pinkett Smith said it was time for people of colour to disregard the Academy Awards.

In a video message posted online, she said: "Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power. And we are a dignified people and we are powerful."

Selma star David Oyelowo has also spoken out about the diversity problem, which was the subject of an online campaign last year using the hashtag OscarSoWhite.

Speaking at the King Legacy Awards, where he was presenting an award to Boone Isaacs, he said: "The Academy has a problem ... It's a problem that needs to be solved."

He added: "A year ago, I did a film called Selma and, after the Academy Awards, Cheryl invited me to her office to talk about what went wrong then.

"We had a deep and meaningful (conversation). For 20 opportunities to celebrate actors of colour, actresses of colour, to be missed last year is one thing; for that to happen again this year is unforgivable."

Boone Isaacs has responded to the controversy, writing in a statement on Monday: "I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it's time for big changes.

"The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the make-up of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.

"As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly."

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