Once upon a time, white people took every single nomination in every single acting category at the 2015 Academy Awards.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

That's 20 acting slots, for anyone counting.


Then, the following year, a funny thing happened.

Every slot, in every acting category: white person. Again.

Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Listen, I'm a white person who has no qualms with white people winning awards. But doesn't two straight years of exclusively white actors snagging nods seem a bit ... much?

Clearly, I wasn't the only one to think so.

In reaction to the Academy's preference for a specific type of actor, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite — coined by April Reign, managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com — was born, calling attention to the obvious inequities reflected in the nominations.

So you can imagine why the internet was waiting with bated breath for the morning of Jan. 24, 2017 — the day this year's nominations were announced.  

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Image.

Fortunately, there were some major improvements to celebrate.

Of the 20 acting nominations, seven were given to people of color — the highest number in a decade.

There's at least one non-white person in every category, with Denzel Washington ("Fences") up for Best Actor and Ruth Negga ("Loving") up for Best Actress.

Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The supporting categories are more diverse, particularly among the actresses, where three of the five slots went to women of color —  Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”). Davis now has three Oscar nominations under her belt, making her the most nominated black actress of all time.

In the best supporting actor category, Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) could become the first Muslim ever to win in this category, while Dev Patel ("Lion") is just the third Indian actor ever to be nominated in any acting category.

Aside from acting, other categories aren't so lily-white this year either.

Four of the best picture nominees — "Hidden Figures," "Lion," "Fences," and "Moonlight," which tells the story of a young, black gay man — feature predominantly non-white casts, while four nominations in the documentary feature category — Ava DuVernay (“13th”), Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”), Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”), and Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”) — went to black artists, The Wrap reported.

What's more, three black writers were nominated in the adapted screenplay category — Barry Jenkins' and Tarell McCraney's "Moonlight," and the late August Wilson's "Fences" — in a category where four of the five nominations went to films with mostly non-white casts.

Filmmaker Barry Jenkins, nominated for "Moonlight." Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong — plenty of groups remain underrepresented, such as Latinx and Asian artists. As April Reign told the Los Angeles Times, the Oscar nods are much "blacker" — not necessarily a whole lot more diverse — than years past.

Still, this year's nominations do feel like a breath of fresh air.

"This year’s slate of Oscars nominees highlights that, when given the opportunity, films that reflect the diversity of this country will shine," Reign said in a statement, noting she's especially encouraged to see Bradford Young become the first black cinematographer to be nominated for "Arrival," and see films like "Fences," "Lion," "Hidden Figures," and "Moonlight" get the recognition they deserve.

The reason why the Oscars tend to be so white isn't a problem that can be fixed by one year of diverse nominees.

The demographics of the Academy — made up of thousands of industry bigwigs who vote for the winners — is older, very white, and predominantly male. And this shows in which films, and which artists, are nominated.

It certainly doesn't help that even getting the chance to become an Oscar contender is much more difficult for filmmakers and artists from marginalized groups. Hollywood's more hesitant to green-light projects it believes to be more financially risky*, so films and storylines featuring people of color — or LGBTQ characters or women or religious minorities (you get the picture) — get overlooked.

*Important note: Films featuring minorities can and do make money at the box office.

The Academy has a long road ahead in diversifying its membership and better reflecting the world we live in. But it's making progress.

In 2016, after another year of white actors filled every acting slot, the Academy announced major changes in how it will be selecting new voters and managing existing ones, aiming to double "the number of women and diverse members" by 2020.

President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has become a big proponent of diversifying the Oscars. Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for LACMA.

Although 2017 promises to be a more diverse Oscars than the previous two, one year doesn't make up for decades of underrepresentation, as Reign noted. It's important Hollywood recognizes that.

"Films that reflect the nuance and complexity of all theatergoers have been incredibly successful this year, both critically and financially," she said. "It is incumbent upon Hollywood to ensure that more stories like these are told."

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?

Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.

The best!

If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!

Image via

Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created over 250 books during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.

But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.

Don't panic! They've been changing in a good way.

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Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

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"Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and actor Peter Dinklage.

On Tuesday, Upworthy reported that actor Peter Dinklage was unhappy with Disney’s decision to move forward with a live-action version of “Snow White and the Seven Drawfs” starring Rachel Zegler.

Dinklage praised Disney’s inclusive casting of the “West Side Story” actress, whose mother is of Colombian descent, but pointed out that, at the same time, the company was making a film that promotes damaging stereotypes about people with dwarfism.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Marc Maron on his “WTF” podcast.

"Well, you know, it's really progressive to cast a—literally no offense to anybody, but I was a little taken aback by, they were very proud to cast a Latino actress as Snow White," Dinklage said, "but you're still telling the story of 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.' Take a step back and look at what you're doing there.”

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