Academy president says she’s ‘heartbroken and frustrated’ by #OscarsSoWhite nominations

For the second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the organisation behind the Oscars, has said she is “heartbroken and frustrated” by the lack of diversity in this year’s nominations.

Highly acclaimed N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton has received just one nomination – for its trio of white screenwriters – and for the second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white. Shortly after the nominations were announced last Thursday (January 14), the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began trending on Twitter

A number of high-profile actors and film-makers have since criticised the nominations, including Spike Lee, who has revealed he will be boycotting the awards ceremony next month, and Jada Pinkett Smith, whose husband Will Smith did not receive the acting nomination many commentators had predicted.

In press statement released last night (January 18), Boone Isaacs pledged to take further steps to improve diversity among AMPAS’s members, who vote for the annual Oscar nominees and winners, in a bid to ensure future Academy Awards shortlists are more representative.

She said: “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 recognise 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.”

This year’s Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on February 28, hosted by Chris Rock. Check out the full list of nominations here.