And the Oscar winner is... white (mostly)

2012-02-26 17:39

Los Angeles - Black actresses Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are Oscar frontrunners on Sunday, but the reality is that non-whites remain hugely under-represented at the Academy Awards, a new study says.

Halle Berry and Denzel Washington were famously lauded as having made a breakthrough for winning best actress and actor Oscars in 2002, but while there has been some progress in the decade since, it remains too little.

Also that year Will Smith was nominated for best actor, and Sidney Poitier received an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, said the study, Not Quite a Breakthrough: The Oscars and Actors of Colour.

It cited Berry as saying in an emotional acceptance speech a decade ago: "This moment is for... every nameless, faceless woman of colour that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened."

But the study asked: "Did 2002 truly herald a new era for actors of colour? ... Our study discovered some progress for actors of colour, but we also found considerable continuing racial/ethnic disparity."

This year has lined up as a relatively strong one for non-white performers.

Davis and Spencer, who play black maids in Mississippi in the civil rights era movie The Help, are tipped to take home Oscars for best actress and best supporting actress, respectively, on Sunday night.

And Mexican Demian Bichir was a surprise best actor nominee for A Better Life - which he hopes will raise awareness about the 11 million undocumented migrants in the US. He is up against George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

But the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) study went through all the Oscar nominees and winners since 2002, and compared them with the previous decade and a string of other data including impact on performers' careers.

Best actress winners since 2002 white

They notably found that:

- all best actress winners since 2002 have been white.

- no winner in any acting category during the last 10 years has been Latino, Asian American, or Native American.

- Oscar winners and nominees of colour make fewer movies per year after their nominations than their white peers do.

- Oscar winners and nominees of colour are more likely to work in television, which is "considered lower-status work".

- Oscar winners and nominees of colour are less likely to receive subsequent nominations.

There has been progress: overall the percentage of non-white nominees in the top Oscar categories has increased from nine percent in 1992-2002, to nearly 20% since Berry and Washington's famous dual "breakthrough".

"This figure, however, falls short of representing the American public, one-third of which is comprised of people of colour," it said, noting that Latinos were particularly under-represented.

The study came after the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the overwhelmingly majority of the 5 765 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are older white men.

Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, with blacks at only 2% and Latinos at less than 2%, according to research by the newspaper.

The median age is 62, and only 14% are aged less than 50.

'Better job'

"We absolutely recognise that we need to do a better job," writer-director Phil Alden Robinson, a longtime member of the academy's board of governors, told the newspaper.

But "we start off with one hand tied behind our back... If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job in opening up its ranks, it's very hard for us to diversify our membership", he added.

India's Resul Pookutty, who won an Oscar in 2009 for sound mixing on Slumdog Millionaire, was invited to join the Academy a year later, flying in from Mumbai to attend a new member dinner.

"It means a great deal. More than the pride of it, I feel that my whole fraternity in India has been recognised and honoured," he said.

Academy President Tom Sherak said the organisation, which has its headquarters in Beverly Hills, wants to increase diversity.

"We've been trying to reach out to the constituency and we're looking for help... Come to us, we'll get you in. We want you in. That would help us a lot," he said.

Frank Pierson, a former academy president who won an Oscar for original screenplay for Dog Day Afternoon in 1976, said membership should be based primarily on merit.

"I don't see any reason why the Academy should represent the entire American population. That's what the People's Choice Awards are for," said Pierson, who is still on the board of governors.

"We represent the professional filmmakers, and if that doesn't reflect the general population, so be it."

Comments

  • jmaryke - 2012-02-26 18:10

    So here we go again...they have no pride by hinting for the oscar( playing for sympathy)...you the writer of the article are just looking for "brownie points" ..if you will excuse the pun...Meryl is an actress Viola is just herself...

      johncarlos.biza - 2012-02-27 09:25

      I remember a columnist referring to them as 'professional blacks'...people who use their skin colour as basis to their success/excuse for failure.

  • Stephan - 2012-02-26 18:15

    What a bowl of cr@p. Who wrote this? Really news24? Really?

  • Nicola Killops - 2012-02-26 18:38

    Oh my word....build a freaking bridge and GET OVER IT!!

  • Greg - 2012-02-26 18:43

    ...and the affirmative Oscar goes to...

      Hugo - 2012-02-26 20:21

      no such thing

      Merven - 2012-02-27 07:59

      @Hugo, but you wish there was one.

  • Gerda - 2012-02-26 19:09

    Why always bringing in the race card? Luckily in the USA the South African government does not have influence to enforce BEE and all the rest of the B's.

      Hugo - 2012-02-26 20:22

      the SA AA was modeled along current US laws on AA,read!

      piet.strydom - 2012-02-26 22:46

      @Hugo - you couldn't be more wrong. In SA AA says: "The workforce must be representative of the demographics of the country." In the USA AA means: "When applying for a job, when evaluating two similar candidates for a position, colour of the skin may not be used as a criterion to make the decision." Huge difference.

      Ja - 2012-02-27 10:07

      You cantake a Hugo to University but you can't make him learn ..

  • Lara - 2012-02-26 19:15

    If you take the Oscars seriously you have to have your heads read. It will always pander to what is the most popular and acceptable choices. Besides, it really only represents American and occasionally European film. They have the paltry Foreign Film category. If you really wanted to know what the best of the best was in year it would be a wide open competition for film all over the world.

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-26 20:22

      And you know, less than 12% of America is white, if not even 5% of wgite Americans are in Hollywood then keeping with that trend, surely there are even fewer blacks. So guess who is gonna have more people nominated? This article pisses me off because it makes black people seem like Affirmative Action grabbing whores. If there were 2 black actresses that made movies last year News24 people need the chill the eff down because surely there wont be 10 black winners. This crap annoys the hell out of me because its just common mathematical sense and so what if more whites are winning? ARGGGGGGG!!! I hope the blacks who believe this nonsense of entitlement burn in hell swiftly followed by the whites who believe that all black people share the same nonsense sentiments.

      fpstevens - 2012-02-26 20:48

      @Lwando. I'm going to Assume your 12% is a misstype. American Demographics: Non Latino Whites 63.7% Non Latino Blacks 12.2% Latino Whites 8.7% Latino Black 0.4% Totals: White 72.4% Blacks 12.6% Rest: 15%

  • Tertius Coetzer - 2012-02-26 19:30

    i guess this is apartheid's fault!

      Hugo - 2012-02-26 20:24

      No Coetzer,there was no apartheid in the US(oscars are in the US BTW)only slavery and later segregation

      Tertius Coetzer - 2012-02-26 20:37

      not a big fan of sarcasm hey hugo?

      Hugo - 2012-02-26 21:24

      I think sarcasm is bad,satire much more creative

      Kate - 2012-02-26 22:24

      Lol, Hugo, I think that if this were a battle of wits, you clearly came unarmed... :) Live a little and laugh a little more...

      Hugo - 2012-02-26 23:17

      armed or not I prefer creative satire:)

  • Ali - 2012-02-26 19:42

    South africa - the reality is that non-blacks remain hugely under-represented in the South African government, a new study says.

  • Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-26 20:02

    People getting angry over this article are so stupid for believing this even represents the sentiments a significant portion of black people. This goes to prove how gullable and bigotted you people are. A few News24 bored writers write some racially charged article and automatically you all believe the 40 million blacks in the country are saying the nonsense. You need to get your heads examined...

      Charmaine Paterson - 2012-02-26 21:13

      You are so right. I read the article and thought it was very shallow, just like Hollywood. More important issues worth fighting over.

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-27 06:43

      Really I cant understand why all people cant use their innate reasoning just to comprehend that there is no direct relationship between these writers & the people they supposedly write for. Most blacks I know dont even know what Oscars are let alone who wins and doesnt. The sad part is that people who get angry over such articles dont even bother to think through if it really represents the people it is about. I stopped accomodating racists in my life a looooong time ago. I refuse to be friends with such people black or white. Why do we never stop to think, surely not everyone in Iraq hates America, Not all white people enjoyed Apartheid or slavery, Not all blacks LIKE MALEMA, ZUMA or benefitted from BEE, Not all Americans are warmongers etc. My goodness our arrogance is going to destroy us. We are so insecure in ourselves that we have to point out other people's faults. Arrogance + Being Gullable = Recipe for disaster.

  • Julie - 2012-02-26 20:08

    Here again it's the colour of the skin.......anyone who WORKS towards an Oscar stands a chance of receiving one. If whites happen to be better, SO WHAT THE F@.k

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-26 20:18

      @Julie, less than 12% of America is white, if not even 5% of white Americans are in Hollywood then keeping with that trend, surely there are even fewer blacks. So guess who is gonna have more people nominated? This article pisses me off because it makes black people seem like Affirmative Action grabbing whores. If there were 2 black actresses that made movies last year News24 people need the chill the eff down because surely there wont be 10 black winners. This crap annoys the hell out of me because its just common mathematical sense and so what if more whites are winning? ARGGGGGGG!!!

      wdvilliers - 2012-02-26 21:18

      And again, just google it young man.... American Demographics: Non Latino Whites 63.7% Non Latino Blacks 12.2% Latino Whites 8.7% Latino Black 0.4% Totals: White 72.4% Blacks 12.6% Rest: 15% Repeating a lie does not make it the truth

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-27 06:25

      Lol, I was pissed when I wrote it. Didnt care much about absolute accuracy. Nonetheless, it doesnt take away from the message I was trying to send. Whether or not there are 90% or 60% more whites, that still equates to a majority & as a result more white people are likely to be in Hollywood than blacks. Hence I did say common mathamatical sense and we all know common sense sometimes isnt at all that clinically accurate but at least it gets the message across. Which is.......Racism is grossly pointless and pathetic and it has no place in the 21st Century.

  • michele.scholtz - 2012-02-26 20:38

    Really? You going to turn this into a racist thing?

  • Dathym Spear - 2012-02-26 21:17

    Actors and film, should be judged on the merit of the film and performance of the actor... end of story. Who cares what skin colour they are?! Who exactly is doing these pointless studies? Some one clearly has way to much time on their hands and plenty on chips on shoulders.

  • Dathym Spear - 2012-02-26 21:17

    Actors and film, should be judged on the merit of the film and performance of the actor... end of story. Who cares what skin colour they are?! Who exactly is doing these pointless studies? Some one clearly has way to much time on their hands and plenty on chips on shoulders.

      Merven - 2012-02-27 08:04

      'should be judged on the merit' That is how everything is suppose to be judged, but then there is this entitlement mentality to satisfy.

  • Wilma Crous - 2012-02-26 21:56

    Lwando I like your attitude. Refreshing!! Gives me hope.

  • Irene - 2012-02-26 22:13

    How pathetic! They already have the black actors awards and black this and black that. FFS!

  • Thisme - 2012-02-27 04:11

    This is in the USA, not Africa - arent Caucasians in the majority???? Isnt that normal then for Caucasians to get more Academy Awards as there are more of them than Blacks??? Really cant see what the problem is all about?

  • Leon - 2012-02-27 05:53

    That Johan Grobbelaar is a funny piece of work.

  • joebruwer - 2012-02-27 08:01

    WTF........... RERIG........ This is UTTER BS... and extremely Racist.

  • Ian - 2012-02-27 08:05

    what study is this, a fatboy blubber butt study

  • Tawanda Clive Magaya - 2012-02-27 08:17

    Lwando, you are seriously insightful and a breath of fresh air. I usually have to dumb myself down when i read the comments on news24 articles because it seems people comment before processing the information in the article. Common sense has definitely become a luxury and those who gave your comments a thumbs down are seriously narrow minded.

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-27 10:59

      I just cant seem to understand how people who were intelligent enough to sign up for a newscaster and read through articles cannot read between the lines. In USA celebrities sell newspapers and in South Africa its race issues. These people are selling words for a living, this isnt journalism. They are living off our insecurities as a country and I dont even want to know why people dont see that. 20 people write damning articles and 2 million people go to war. Something is definitely off with that scenario.

  • Debbie - 2012-02-27 08:23

    I swear only in SA will they bring up race, do you not have anything better to do with your time then to think up BS... you make me sick, race does not need to be brought up in each and everything that takes place in the world. Ignorance, time and lack of intelligence is what I am leaning towards here with you. ARRRRGGGG you make me so sick

      Lwando Zondwa-Ziintshaba Poni - 2012-02-27 10:52

      On point, we are so arrogant to belittle the issues of the world to racial bickering. We have real problems such as poverty, education & healthcare but what do we do, racialize it all.

  • Pixie86 - 2012-02-27 16:04

    so it's not just south africans who make a race issue about everything.

  • Pixie86 - 2012-02-27 16:12

    lwando where have you been all my life? News24 journos are always writing racially charged stories and ignorant news24 readers always fall for it.

  • Chaze Angela Damonze - 2012-02-27 21:03

    just read the title of the story and i have a reasonable explination for this. All the black actors and actresses star in crappy tyler perry movies that no one with good taste will go watch...

  • vijay.moodley - 2012-02-28 12:42

    Are you not sick of this race card that keeps getting played. It appears that anything that does not feature a black person in the line up is due to race.Wonder why the KZN top 10 celebrations were done away? It almost reminds me of Hitler's ARyan race. God forbid if any other race group is to be visible...cos that is discrimination.

  • maylani.bezuidenhout - 2012-03-01 14:07

    and most people who won wore a size 10 shoe and not a size 6... really now!

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