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by Paula Bernstein
February 25, 2014 12:42 PM
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The Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards in Infographic Form

We've all seen the statistics about the diversity gap at the Oscars before, but they are still shocking and worth repeating. Amazingly, since the Academy Awards began 85 years ago, only one woman of color has ever won the Academy Award for Best Actress (Halle Berry) and only one woman has ever won the Academy Award for Best Director (Kathryn Bigelow). Men of color haven't fared much better with only six of them having ever won the Academy Award for Best Actor and none winning the Academy Award for Best Director. A recent post over at Lee & Low Books addressed the issue with an infographic (below) as well as interviews with independent filmmakers about the state of diversity in film.

"The numbers do not surprise me because very few Academy Award level films with non-white leads are being greenlit," independent filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love and Basketball," "The Secret Life of Bees") told Lee & Low Books. "Until this changes, the abysmal numbers will not change. The box office drives which films get greenlit. The hope is that with this year’s success of a variety of films with African American leads, Hollywood will be more open to taking chances." See the original post here.

Meanwhile, Newsweek.com delves further into Oscar's "woman problem" and concludes that "Films with meaty roles for women are, by and large, considered lower caliber by the Academy." Could Oscar break that curse this year with "Gravity" featuring Sandra Bullock?

Lee & Low Books

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  • G. | March 2, 2014 5:55 PMReply

    "Men of color haven't fared much better with only six of them having ever won the Academy Award for Best Actor and none winning the Academy Award for Best Director." Didn't Ang Lee win this award twice?

  • Mia Renaud | February 27, 2014 12:09 PMReply

    These stats are dismal and this chart is a very powerful representation of the exclusion faced by minorities in the film industry over the years. We should also note the minority groups that are not even acknowledged by this chart such as disabled artists/filmmakers.

  • Oberon | February 27, 2014 9:50 AMReply

    This is actually kind-of race-baiting. Not even talking about ethnicity here. No mention of comparison in population percentages. What about, let's say, Jewish percentage? Or discuss the traditional family roles people have had throughout the history of film. All is changing and doesn't accurately represent present day sociology.

  • Gregory DeGraffenreid | February 26, 2014 5:59 PMReply

    Can anyone tell me how would I get in touch with equity investors
    or producers for financing a movie?

  • lux | February 25, 2014 1:50 PMReply

    Sorry the info graphic is very misleading.In my experience writers and producers do not call the shots as to what gets made. Producers ALWAYS go to studios, money people and foreign markets for financing. Film financing is based based on projected returns in the marketplace. A male, white actor in his 30s who has a marquis name will always pull more money in with foreign markets. Most indy Producers will look to foreign presales first to minimize the equity needed on a film. As a producer, It sucks to go to your foreign sales agent with a female protagonist, Latino lead project and be told that many markets will not pay presales for the names being considered..These are the biggest names in the industry right now. I'm assuming that studios have the same type of view.

  • MJ | February 25, 2014 2:19 PM

    Ehh, Lux, maybe. I am fairly certain that the massive success of the Fast & Furious films were not due to Paul Walker, but due to its diversity of cast which includes Paul Walker (small yet huge difference).

    The infographic is not misleading --- it is saying what you're saying only instead of accepting this as "the way things are" it is saying "this is not the way it should be". If the majority of films are a particular way, and there are successes showing you can diversify cast and still make loads of mulah, then why isn't it happening more?

  • spassky | February 25, 2014 1:43 PMReply

    I agree with the sentiment that roles should be more representative of race in the modern world, but the Oscars is just a symptom of current depictions in cinema... a bit obfuscating to point to them as an arbiter of such...

    Again, that being said, would love more women in the directors' camp and more roles for non-whites. (and golly i feel dirty for writing the term "non whites" but what else am I to do?)

  • diego | February 25, 2014 1:38 PMReply

    I think you've got to compare this with the amount of people of other races working in the industry. Also, you've got to compare it with the number of women inside the industry. There's probably more men as directors and writers, and that's because of an historical issue, which doesn't makes it right, but that doesn't makes it the academy's fault.

    Yes, 36% of the US population is not white, but for the Academy to reflect this you need first a major change in the industry.

  • hmmmm | February 26, 2014 1:05 PM

    Women graduate film school in equal proportion to men. Just a fun little statistic before you imply they aren't in equal numbers in the industry.

  • fish | February 25, 2014 1:35 PMReply

    @ Joe H.: You're a white male, right?

  • Joe H. | February 27, 2014 10:30 PM

    Does it matter? Shouldn't cinematic excellence transcend race and gender and shouldn't it be judged accordingly??

  • The Diversity List | February 25, 2014 1:23 PMReply

    Roles for women of color are being written- check TheBitchPackDotCom , "The Diversity List"

  • Joe H. | February 25, 2014 12:57 PMReply

    So what?? Give me names and then we can decide whether or not someone else deserved to win. But these statistics mean absolutely nothing. The day academy voters see race is the day the academy loses whatever integrity it has left.

  • L | February 25, 2014 12:55 PMReply

    Some data on the % of nominees would've been interesting.

  • MJ | February 25, 2014 12:47 PMReply

    This is incredible. The Best Actress category is just devastating.