Oscars 2016: African American film executives discuss how Hollywood can improve diversity issue

“You don’t get nominated by luck, you get nominated because you campaigned"

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The Independent Culture

If one thing's become clear, it's that there is a severe issue regarding diversity in Hollywood, highlighted by the announcement of this year's Oscar nominations

Prompting the #OscarsSoWhite campaign which has since led several to boycott Sunday's ceremony (Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Spike Lee), the Academy has since inducted new methods to ensure diversity would be promoted in the future.

Now, three African-American film executives have gathered to speak at the ICON MANN Panel held in LA yesterday (23 February), pinpointing where exactly Hollywood can go from here.

They all agreed that the change will manifest once Hollywood truly considers “what stories are going to be told, how they’re going to be told, and who is going to tell them," Deadline reports.

The assembled insiders included Cassandra Butcher, Vice President of National Publicity at Fox Searchlight, Paramount Pictures' Production Executive Alana Mayo and Tendo Nagenda, SVP production at Disney.

Reflecting upon this year's nominations, Butcher stated: “You don’t get nominated by luck, you get nominated because you campaigned. That means kissing a lot of babies, literally shaking a lot of hands and making sure Oscar voters are given opportunities to see the film.”

Nagenda concurred that the Academy's diversity issue is a more deep-rooted one, suggesting that it begins a long time before the nominations are announced.

“What I think we see with the lack of diversity and conclusion, how we want to define it with the number of nominations or exposure, it sort of starts much earlier." He went on to brand the ceremony a "self-fulfilling prophecy," claiming that due to the Academy being largely comprised of former winners, previous results are inevitably reflected.

They all agreed that the issue is improving, however, with Mayo saying: “I don’t doubt the entertainment world will be more diverse in five years because of how global our business continues to become; China, for example, is the fastest growing international market.

"Having our audience in mind it’s going to be so imperative to make movies that serve and speak to audiences that want to see themselves.”

The Oscars, hosted by Chris Rock, take place this Sunday, 28 February.