TORONTO – It all started January 2015.
April Reign, managing editor of BroadwayBlack广州桑拿网, settled on to her couch eagerly awaiting the 2015 Oscar nominations announcement.
“I’ve been a watcher of the Oscars for over 30 years,” Reign said.
But as each of the nominees were announced, Reign noticed an unsettling trend.
“Picture after picture after picture came up and there were no people of colour, there was no one from a marginalized community, there were no one from LGBT community people represented,” she said.
“I was disappointed and frustrated with the lack of representation in film and so I took to social media to vent that frustration.”
Reign composed a simple, but poignant 45 character tweet that would start the #OscarsSoWhite phenomenon.
#OscarsSoWhite they asked to touch my hair. 😒
— April (@ReignOfApril) January 15, 2015
“It was a lark. It was something funny and cheeky,” Reign said.
“And then the conversation turned into something much more serious and it became a rallying cry to have more in depth discussion on this issue.”
Now, more than one year since the hashtag’s composition, it’s still relevant.
“[It] experienced a resurgence,” she said.
“This year was disappointing and a lot of people thought that 2015 was just a fluke but when we saw 2016 and there still was not any significant inclusion in film of marginalized communities, I think people started to realize that perhaps this was a pattern.”
Reign said movies like “The Martian”, with the lead character being played by Matt Damon could have considered casting actors of colour.
“Matt Damon did a great job in it but there’s nothing to say that a person of colour could have not played that role,” she said.
“Similarly, a movie like the ‘Danish Girl’ with Eddie Redmayne, he was great playing a transgender woman and was nominated, but the movie ‘Tangerine’ was overlooked by the Academy and one wonders why a transgender woman could not have played the role that Eddie Redmayne did. Those are the sort of issues in respect to inclusion that #OscarsSoWhite speaks to.”
Since the #OscarsSoWhite resurgence, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she has since redoubled efforts to diversify its membership.
“I am very energized by the fact that the academy has made some structural changes, which is more than I could have imagined,” Reign said.
“The systemic change that they are making is historic. It hasn’t happened in the 80 year history of the awards.”
But this is just the beginning Reign said, adding she no longer wants to have these discussions.
“What I would like to have happen is that we don’t have to have these discussions anymore. We shouldn’t be able to pick on one hand the number of people of colour or the number of people in marginalized communities that have been nominated.”