Oscars ‘Heartbroken’ Over Lack of Diversity, Academy Pledges ‘Big Changes’

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” says Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which dispenses the Oscars, acknowledged Monday that the group is “heartbroken” over the lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees, and pledged to make “big changes.”

“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,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of AMPAS.

The statement came on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, as the nation remembered its commitment to civil rights and the path forged by the visionary leader.

Hollywood has come under fire for the second year in a row for failing to nominate a single actor of color in any of the Academy Awards acting categories. On Monday director Spike Lee announced that he would not attend what he called the “lily-white Oscars,” while leading entertainment figures such as Jada Pinkett Smith and “Straight Outta Compton” producer (and Oscar voter) Will Packer criticized the persistent status quo.

The backlash has placed Boone Isaacs, who is African-American, in an uncomfortable position. However, she pledged in her statement that the group is addressing the problem.

“The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership,” she said. “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.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which votes on the Oscars, is a stunning 94 percent Caucasian and more than 70 percent male, according to a study conducted in 2012 by the Los Angeles Times.

Read the full statement below:

STATEMENT FROM ACADEMY PRESIDENT CHERYL BOONE ISAACS

I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees.  While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, 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 makeup 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.

This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ’60s and ’70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.

14 Award-Worthy Performances by Non-White Actors the Academy Overlooked (Photos)

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