It is no secret that Latinx families have the highest rates of movie attendance according to a report released in 2018 by the Motion Picture Association of America. Latinx are the largest ethnic demographic in the United States with more that 25% in Box Office gross revenue. Despite our movie fandom habits why are Latinx Oscar nominations at movie and television award ceremonies still so problematically low at this year’s awards and past years? Why is the social justice hashtag that changed the Oscars, #OscarsSoWhite still relevant to our Latinx community more than 5 years later?
Oh but wait, we did have that year 2018 when Rita Moreno, Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade sang a moving song from Coco that touched the whole audience and stole the whole show…yet not a single Latinx nomination. Awkward.
There is progress and light at the end of the tunnel for other groups like Asian, Muslim representation and women did well this year, from historically have been up against majority white male categories (over 90%) in categories like ‘Best Director’. Women pulled in about seven-six nominations for this year’s 2021 Academy Awards – Oscars making historic gender equality moves. Black, Latinx, people of color nominees for acting and in support roles jumped as well. While this is an impressive step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to include more Latinx Oscar nominations.
Sustainable growth for each group needs to occur year after year, for an increase in diversity, inclusion and belonging on any Hollywood set like any other industry. Stacy Smith, founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, runs the leading global think tank investigating inequality in Hollywood and creating solutions for systemic change said this about the 2021 Oscars:
“The nominations today are a step in the right direction and reflect progress toward greater inclusion. There is still room for growth if people like Regina King have not been nominated, and while we celebrate the ‘firsts’ this year, we hope these are not the ‘only.’ Often, there is a ‘one and done’ mentality when it comes to inclusion, so it is imperative to see sustained effort in the future to ensure continued recognition of talent from all backgrounds.”
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Earlier this year, the 2021 Oscar nominations were announced.
The stats for Latinx Oscar nominations were dismal. Sure, the Director and Cinematography category have been dominated by Mexican talent, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki winning back to back in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The same has not happened in other categories – like Best Actor and Best Actress. The most recent win for a Latinx in the actors category was made 21 years ago by Benicio Del Toro. Jennifer Lopez was mentioned for a Best Supporting Actress for Hustlers where her character is Ramona, a stripper who swindles wealthy patrons at a strip club for money. The buzz on Lopez’s nomination fizzled and was perceived as a possible Oscars snub.
Two films that made the news and virality yet not recognized by the Academy were La Llorona a first for Guatemala and Ya No Estoy Aqui, a Mexican film (that won film awards prior) for the International Film category. Again, two clear winners by audiences and critics yet lost opportunities for the Academy.
Here Are Nominations To Watch At The 2021 Oscars :
Best Documentary Feature: Chilean director Maite Alberdi and producer Marcela Santibanez for ‘The Mole Agent’, a first time nomination for Chile in this category.
Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay: Shaka King, Panamanian-American, making his directorial debut/Director of ‘Judas and The Black Messiah, the story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. By the way, this is the first movie with an all-Black producing team.
#OscarsSoWhite will prevail as a constant reminder that there is still much to be done for the Academy to reflect the ever-changing melting pot that is Hollywood.
93rd Academy Awards air Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.