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The 90th Academy Awards: Representation In Hollywood Still Has A Long Journey Ahead



The 90th Academy Awards was an incredible triumph, championing diversity and opportunity in speeches, nominations, and in some category wins. Still, Hollywood has a long way to go to truly represent everyone on and off the screen.


Every artist nominated at the 90th Academy Awards is an incredible artist and deserved to be nominated - even more so, every film. I would like to begin with the triumphs for women, diversity, and representation at the Oscars in 2018.



Jordan Peele & Get Out.

Jordan Peele was the first African American honored with a Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay nominations in one year. He was also the first African American to win Best Original Screenplay and the fifth African American to be nominated for Best Director.

Get Out was the first horror film to win any award at the Oscars.




Rachel Morrison was the first woman to be honored with a nomination for best cinematography at the Oscars. She was nominated for her work on Mudbound.





Greta Gerwig & Lady Bird.

Greta Gerwig was the fifth woman to be nominated for best director at the Oscars and the only woman to be nominated at the 90th Oscars for directing. It has been eight years since a woman was nominated in this category.

Lady Bird is one of two coming-of-age stories both directed by and starring a woman to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The other story is Lone Scherfig's An Education, nominated in 2010.



Kobe Bryant was the first African American to win an Oscar for Animated Short Film. He won for his film Dear Basketball which journeys through his basketball career from childhood to his stardom with the Los Angeles Lakers



Yance Ford was the first openly transgender man to be nominated for any Academy Award and openly transgender director to be nominated for any Academy Award. He shared his nomination for Best Documentary Feature with Joslyn Barnes for their work on Strong Island.



Mary J. Blige is the first African American woman to be nominated for more than one category in a year and is the first person nominated for an academy award for acting and writing an original song in the same year. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and for Best Original Song "Mighty River". Both nominations were for her work in Mudbound.


Dee Rees was the first queer black woman to be nominated for any Academy Award in a writing category, and the first black woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. She was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for her work on Mudbound.



Octavia Spencer was the first black actress to be nominated twice after previously winning and the first black actress to be nominated two years in a row. She is tied with Viola Davis as the most nominated black actress ever with three nominations. This year, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Shape of Water .


Now, you're probably thinking - that seems pretty good. What's the problem? I want to be very clear, we SHOULD celebrate these victories. But we also need to look at how we can keep the momentum going and continue to increase representation.


While the list above is a diverse and representative list of talented, incredible artists who deserve our love and support, there are only eight people on this list. That's a problem.


Above - Hattie McDaniel, the first black man or woman to win an Oscar. She won for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Gone With the Wind in 1940. She received her award in a segregated hotel.


Throughout all 90 years of the Oscars, only 38 black men and women have taken home an award in any category. These awards have never been taken home in the following 5 out of 18 categories:

  • Best Director

  • Best Cinematography

  • Best Costume Design

  • Best Film Editing

  • Best Live Action Short Film

This year alone, black men and women were only nominated in 10 out of the 18 categories. The excluded 8 categories include:

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Best Cinematography

  • Best Costume Design

  • Best Documentary Short

  • Best Film Editing

  • Best Original Music Score

  • Best Sound Mixing


Above - Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Director. She won for her work on The Hurt Locker in 2008.


Throughout all 90 years of the Oscars, only 37 women have taken home an award in any category that is not Best Actress in a Leading Role or Best Supporting Actress. These awards have never been taken home in the following 6 out of 18 categories:

  • Best Cinematography

  • Best Documentary Short

  • Best Live Action Short Film

  • Best Sound Mixing

  • Best Visual Effects

  • Best Original Screenplay

This year alone, women were only nominated in 8 of the 16 categories excluding Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The Excluded 8 categories include:

  • Best Costume Design

  • Best Documentary Short

  • Best Original Music Score

  • Best Live Action Short Film

  • Best Sound Mixing

  • Best Sound Editing

  • Best Visual Effects

I could go on and discuss why Call Me By Your Name was a triumph in terms of story, but not in casting - casting two straight men in the role of two gay characters doesn't support the conversations regarding inclusion in the industry. I could also discuss all of the Latin-American, Asian-American, & LGBTQ+ filmmakers and actors who were not represented at the Oscars, but I think you can see my point and the direction I'm going in.


These statistics are hard to hear and hard to digest, but we cannot progress forward if we become content with the present. So, you're probably wondering - how can we progress forward?



Above - (left to right) Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra and Salma Hayek speak at the Oscars in a tribute to the #MeToo movement and inclusion in the industry.


It seems like we already have a plan for inclusion, but now we actually have to do it. WE have to understand that representation means everyone, not just men, not just women, not just black men and women, not just the LGBTQ+ community but every one.


We can start by creating more opportunities in the pre-production phase for women, filmmakers in the LGBTQ+ community, black men and women, Latinx men and women, Asian-Americans. We can do this through Francis McDermond's suggestion of an inclusion rider or we can just, as artists, create our own work. Take a look at Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele. They made those stories come to life.


The film industry exists in such a way where you find your "clan" and you continue working with them on most, if not every, project. But the industry is changing. Different people are able to tell their stories and different people are forming the "clans". I propose that Hollywood continue to celebrate diverse clans in their awards ceremonies and in the movies they create.


Written by Monica Arsenault - Nun Habits Creator. March 7, 2018


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