Oscars Diversity Protest Called Off at ‘Selma’ Director Ava DuVernay’s Request

Instead, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network will “pursue a direct dialogue” with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

Hollywood Blvd. wasn’t as busy on Sunday as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science may have expected, as a previously planned Oscar diversity protest was canceled at the request of “Selma” writer and director Ava DuVernay.

“Upon the request of ‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network has agreed to forgo our planned protests of the Oscars today and pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences via Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Dawn Hudson,” Najee Ali, political director of the organization, said in a statement to the media.

“We continue to be fervent in our mission for expansion and inclusion within the Academy and the motion picture industry as a whole,” Ali continued. “We salute all the artists being celebrated today at the Oscars while demanding an examination of the sidelining and underrepresentation of artists of color and women artists. Art can change the world and the world is more diverse than this year’s honorees. Addressing that disconnect is vital and necessary and will be done.”

Other groups that were involved in the canceled event included the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

This year’s Oscar nominations, which include 20 white acting nominees, sparked controversy, with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite gaining traction on social media.

Earlier this week, Congressman Tony Cardenas entered the debate with a letter to AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. In the letter, Cardenas lamented the fact that “such a revered American institution fail[s] to fully reflect our nation.”

DuVernay’s “Selma,” which dramatized a 1965 civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lost to “Birdman” in the Best Picture category. When DuVernay did not receive a Best Director nomination and star David Oyelowo was not nominated for Best Actor, many perceived the exclusions as snubs.