CHICAGO (CBS) – Just a year ago, people in the black community called for a boycott of the Oscars because of lack of diversity.
There was even a hashtag, “Oscars so white.”
This year, the worthy performances come from a much more diverse group.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams has more on how this year’s nominations are an inspiration to local actors.
When the Goodman Theatre’s Willa Taylor, saw the Oscar nominations, she knew what the reaction would be among Chicago actors of color.
They would get inspiration, Taylor said, from the record six African American actors nominated for Academy Awards in one year.
“It is so nice to see the breadth and depth of stories that are being told now in Hollywood, but also so many of the people came from the theater community who are nominated,” Taylor said.
Three films with predominately-black casts are nominees for Best Picture — Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures.
“Who knew the story of Hidden Figures, of the women that worked at NASA. I never even knew women were at NASA, let alone these African American women and women of color who were considered the computers,” Taylor said.
The nominations come a year after no black actors were nominated for Academy Awards, sparking the “Oscar So White” controversy.
But Chicago Tribune Film Critic, Michael Phillips insists these are not token nods this year.
“It’s very easy to look at the numbers this with the nominations that came out today and say ‘oh, well, they’re making a course correction,” Phillips said. “The quality on certain films and certain performers is just excellent. This is on merit man.”
“We have to really listen and appreciate everyone’s humanity, listen to everyone’s stories and not just demonize people who don’t look like us.”
African Americans were also nominated for Best Director, Cinematography, Screenplay, Editing and Best Documentary.
Dev Patel became only the third Indian actor nominated for an Oscar. But there are almost no Hispanic nominees. The actors and filmmakers said more important than awards is the opportunity to work and tell their stories.