Last year's #OscarsSoWhite problem was bad. This year, it's even worse.

On Jan. 14, the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced.

There are plenty of talented actors who deserve a round of applause. Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance, is up for Best Actor for his work in "The Revenant," right after snagging the Golden Globe this past weekend. Jennifer Lawrence and Brie Larson are also nominated for the top prize in the actress category, fresh off big wins at Sunday's Globes.

Congrats!


Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images.

These thespians deserve a slap on the back, no doubt. But there's a sad reality about the acting categories as a whole:

Not even one person of color was recognized with an acting nomination this year, and it wasn't due to a lack of superb performances to choose from.

Take a moment to let this fact sink in: Every single nominee in all 20 acting slots this year is white. In other words, not one person of color is nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, or Best Supporting Actress.

Many feel as though actor Idris Elba was snubbed for his role in "Beasts of No Nation." Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong — the nominees are some seriously talented folks. Cate Blanchett? Mark Ruffalo? Bryan Cranston? Kate Winslet? These people are known for their powerhouse performances, and they have the acting chops to prove it.

But when you look at performances by actors of color that didn't make the cut — Idris Elba in "Beasts of No Nation," Will Smith in "Concussion," Michael B. Jordan in "Creed" (just to name a few) — it's hard not to wonder ... how could not even a single slot across all 20 be given to a non-white person?

Are you experiencing déjà vu? The exact same thing happened last January.

The 2015 Academy Awards was of historic proportion; for the first time since 1997, every acting category slot had been filled by a white person (sound familiar?). This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to go viral, as social media erupted with outrage. I mean, it was 2015, after all ... how could that happen?

Welp, the Academy has outdone itself.


In fact, the 2016 Oscar season somehow shaped up to be even less diverse. Last January, at least "Selma" — a film that highlighted the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement — snagged a nod for best picture, even as the film's star, David Oyelowo, was snubbed for his performance as MLK. Not one movie in the running for best picture this year features a person of color as a protagonist. Many believe the critically acclaimed blockbuster "Straight Outta Compton" was straight up snubbed.

A comment from Oyelowo last year about his snub and the types of roles performed by people of color that get recognized is particularly striking now, given the context of this year's lack of diverse nominees (emphasis added):

"Generally speaking, we as black people have been celebrated more for when we are subservient, when we are not being leaders, or kings, or being in the center of our own narrative driving it forward. ... We have been slaves, we have been domestic servants, we have been criminals, we have been all of those things, but we've been leaders, we've been kings, we've been those who change the world. And those films where that is the case are so hard to get made."

Of course, who should and shouldn't be nominated for what is certainly debatable — 100 people could have 100 different reviews after watching the same movie. But the fact there were many more films featuring non-white actors and stories of Oscar-potential this year that got completely overlooked paints a disturbing picture.

As Vox's Todd VanDerWerff pointed out, "It's so much harder to suggest that 'maybe the Academy just didn't like it,' when 'it' applies to a whole swath of movies and performances."

So, what's the problem here? Why is the Academy overlooking black and brown actors and stories?

It's easy to forget that the Academy is not, like, some Hollywood higher power that announces the best actors and films based on its divine authority. The academy is made up of (overwhelmingly white, older, male) humans.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

As The Los Angeles Times reported in 2013, the Academy's membership is a whopping 93% white and 76% male. Also, the average member is in their early 60s.

All things considered, it makes sense that the actors and storylines that resonate most with an audience of people who mostly look like grandpas in Disney Channel sitcoms would be — yep, you guessed it! — white actors telling white people's stories.

Will the Academy's top choices ever accurately reflect America's demographics? There's certainly reason to hope.

Even though the Academy itself isn't entirely to blame — more movies created by people of color that cast people of color would help diversify an all-white nominee list — it realizes its way of selecting top performances needs changing.

That's why, in recent years, the Academy's accepted a larger and more diverse pool of new members, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, hoping to begin chipping away at the racial and gender imbalance.

It'll be a process, though — with more than 6,000 Academy voters and an annual new membership figure that stays in the low hundreds, it'll take time for a truly diverse voting body to form.

So here's to hoping the 2026 nods are a lot less white than the 2016 ones.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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