'All-white Oscar nominee shortlists compel us to be more diverse,' says first black film president

All actors nominated for the Oscars this year are white

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The first black president of the film academy has said that all-white actor nomination lists for this year’s Oscars inspires her to push for more diversity.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, spoke out about the widespread criticism regarding the lack of nominees from different ethnic backgrounds.


All 20 of this year’s acting contenders are white and there are no women in the directing or writing categories. After the nominations were announced, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag started trending on Twitter ahead of the 87th ceremony to be held on 22 February.

Ms Boone Isaacs said the academy was “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion” and the outreach to women and black artists was now a major focus.

“In the last two years we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past towards becoming a more diverse and inclusive organisation through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” she said.

The Oscars 2015 will take place on Sunday 22 February

“And personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”

Despite awards and universal acclaim Selma received since its US release in December, some felt its failure to garner nominations for director Ava DuVernay or star David Oyelowo reflected a racial bias.

The civil rights drama, which is set in Alabama amid extreme racial tensions, was submitted into the best picture category by 7,000 people, Ms Boone Isaacs added.

Criteria for nominees are suggested by those in each specific branch of film making. For example, directors can suggest ‘best director’ nominees and only actors can short list fellow actors for a chance to win an award.

However, the entire academy membership can submit suggestions for ‘best picture’.