If you've been paying attention since the Academy Award nominations were announced a little over two weeks ago, you've probably noticed the outcry and uproar over the lack of 'diversity' in the selections made.
In all four acting categories, every nominee is white. In the Best Director category, only Alejandro Inarritu is non-white. And in the Best Picture category, every film is led by a primarily white cast.
Black celebrities such as Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have pledged to not show up for the awards show on February 28th, as has Will Smith himself who was not nominated for his starring role in Concussion.
Many have called for the show's host, Chris Rock, to dropout of his duties, though the comedian has stated he will not.
With this outrage gaining massive media attention as well as criticism of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization announced just last week that it will double it's number of both women and minority members by 2020.
While I understand a more 'diverse' voting body is a good thing, I believe all this outrage is misplaced.
Over the past 15 years, what do Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle, Djimon Hounsou, Barkhad Abdi, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Eddie Murphy, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Lupita Nyong'o, Halle Berry, Quvenzhané Wallis, Queen Latifah, Sophie Okonedo, Jennfer Hudson, Ruby Dee and Taraji P. Henson have in common? They're are all black actors and actresses that have either been nominated for and/or won an Oscar, some more than once.
While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences isn't perfect - and again, a more 'diverse' voting body is a good thing - history has shown that when a great performance by an actor or actress is given and deemed the 'Top 5 Best of the Year', they will more than likely honor that individual, regardless of their skin color.
The problem, I believe, is the lack of great roles for these aforementioned black actors and actresses (as well as plenty of others) to play. I don't think this is mainly an 'Academy Awards' problem, as so much a 'film industry' problem. Awards are based on merit and excellence, not diversity. If there aren't great roles and opportunities for black actors and actresses (along with any other minority actor or actress), there is nothing to nominate them for. No one cried out this year when the National Board of Film Critics didn't nominate any actor or actress of color. Same with the New York Film Critics, or the Los Angeles Film Critics. Even the Screen Actors Guild Awards - where actors and actresses themselves are the voting body - only selected one actor of color for nomination (Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation). The Academy Awards basically followed suit with every other voting body in the film industry this year and nominated those who were the best. They can't control the pool of which to nominate. That's a damn film industry problem that needs to be addressed and changed.
Oh, and Will Smith, just because you decide to do a dramatic role once every five years, doesn't mean you automatically get an Oscar nomination. It doesn't work that way. And for all your talk of diversity, what do the names F. Gary Gray, Antoine Fuqua, Spike Lee, John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and the Hughes Bros. have in common? They're all black directors, and in your near 20 years in Hollywood, you've never worked with a single one.
Neither has George Clooney, neither has Matt Damon.
Keep that in mind when these actors criticize about diversity, and yet have never used their own power to change it.