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#OscarsSoWhite creator: Films are more black this year, ‘not more diverse’

Academy Award nominations for "Fences" and actors Denzel Washington and Viola Davis represent progress, but there's a long way to go, says April Reign, the creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

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By TRE’VELL ANDERSON | Los Angeles Times | Published: January 24, 2017

Following last year’s industry-shaking #OscarsSoWhite campaign, the 2017 slate of Oscar nominations is surely more diverse with the likes of Octavia Spencer, Denzel Washington and Barry Jenkins all taking home nominations. But according to April Reign, former attorney, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com and the hashtag’s creator, the fight for actual diversity and inclusion is not yet over.

“One year does not make up for over 80 years of underrepresentation of all genders, sexual orientations, races, abilities and First Nation status,” she said to The Times. “#OscarsSoWhite is about the inclusion of all marginalized communities, both in front of and behind the camera, throughout the entertainment industry.”

Films heralded for their diversity this year included “Fences,” “Lion,” Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight.” Notable other standouts include the nomination of the first African American cinematographer, Bradford Young for “Arrival,” and the first black female editor, Joi McMillon for “Moonlight.” And many of these films have been commercial successes, rebuffing a tired industry belief that diverse films cannot be profitable.

“This year’s slate of Oscar nominees highlights that, when given the opportunity, films that reflect the diversity of this country will shine,” Reign added.

Still, a number of communities find themselves not represented in Hollywood. Such representation “can only be achieved with enthusiastic support from studios beginning at the screenwriting process and continuing through film distribution,” Reign said.

How will we know there is an end to #OscarsSoWhite? (Especially since many want to cancel or pause the movement .)

“I think we know when inclusion is commonplace,” Reign said. “We know when the studios are all actively seeking the stories of the marginalized, and that’s not happening yet. Theatergoers will know when they have a myriad of choices, not just around award season, but all year long from which to choose.

“Everyone is saying the Oscars are more diverse this year. No they’re not. They’re blacker, but where are the Latinx movies, the LGBTQIA movies? The Asian American/Pacific Islander community has had a worse year. We can’t forget (them) just because we have black nominees this year. #OscarsSoWhite is about everybody.”

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