In 2015, the Academy Awards nominated 20 white actors for a whack of Oscar nominations. This was a huge mess-up. It even inspired the brilliant and tenacious activist April Reign to start the #OscarsSoWhite movement. This movement called on the Academy to stop celebrating just white folks and instead platform the achievements of diverse artists everywhere.
What’s more, Reign’s call to action gained real momentum, with people from across the planet calling on the Oscars to do better. And according to the Oscars, they listened.
So, eight years on, are our Oscars noms more diverse? Well, yes, but there is still a whack of extra work that needs to be done. According to a study by the University of California, between 2008 and 2015, only 8% of Oscar nominees were from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. Meanwhile, between 2015 and 2023, 17% of Oscar nominees were from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.
As previously stated, this shift isn’t good enough. However, it’s also worth noting that the Academy Awards is stepping in the right direction.
And, to make matters more hopeful, we’ve already got to enjoy the delights of our Oscars becoming more a diverse awards programme. This can be demonstrated in all of the diverse Oscar wins that took place in 2023.
Want a list of these victories? Well, then here’s a list of these victories.
‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’
EEAO is a movie about interdimensional ruptures, the importance of family, and being wowed in a movie theatre. It stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, both of whom won Oscars for their mint acting. Yeoh won the Oscar for Best Actress, while Quan won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is the beacon of light, of possibility,” said Yeoh during her acceptance speech. “This is the proof that dreams come true. And ladies, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re past your prime. Never give up!”
Quan discussed similar topics during his time on stage. He spoke about the importance of holding onto your dreams and how things can get better.
“My journey started on a boat,” said Ke Huy Quan during his acceptance speech. “I spent a year in a refugee camp. And somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage. They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me!”
EEAO’s Co-Director, Daniel Kwan, also won multiple Oscars. One for Best Original Screenplay, one for Best Directing, and one for Best Picture.
‘The Elephant Whisperers’
The Elephant Whisperers became the first Indian-made movie to win an Oscar. The film, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, is about an Indigenous Kattunayakan couple caring for a baby elephant, and it won Best Documentary Short.
“Thank you to the Academy for recognizing our film, highlighting Indigenous people and animals, to Netflix for believing in the power of the film,” said Gonsalves.
“And, finally, to my mother, father, and sister, who are up there somewhere. You are the centre of my universe.”
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’
Fortunately, EEAO and The Elephant Whisperers weren’t the only diverse films to win Oscars this year. Ruth Carter, an African-American costume-designing icon, scored an Oscar for her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Plus, to state the obvious, she won this Oscar for Best Costume Design.
“We are reshaping how culture is represented,” said Carter.
“I share this with many dedicated artists whose hands and hearts helped manifest the costumes of Wakanda and Talokan. This is for my mother, she was 101.”
It’s also worth stating that Carter is now the only Black woman to win two Oscars. In 2019, she scored a Best Costume Design Oscar for her work on the original Black Panther.
Let’s just hope that Carter is not alone in this honour for long. In 2024, we need even more change.
And to bring us home, we have ‘Naatu Naatu.’ This bop is from the Telugu blockbuster RRR. Not only should this song be raved to every weekend, it also won an Oscar for Best Original Song.
For self-evident reasons, this pleased the creators of this song, M.M. Keeravaani and Chandrabose. They felt as if they had done their culture proud.
“It feels so great to compete with stars like Lady Gaga and Rihanna and many others,” said M.M. Keeravaani, before his win. “Because when there is strong opposition, then the taste of victory is greater than the taste of victory against a nobody.”
To see Everything Everywhere All At Once, book your tickets at Hoyts.