8:30am PT by Kweku Mandela
Nelson Mandela's Grandson Wonders Why Last Year's #OscarsSoWhite Conversation Went Nowhere
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
I have tried to recall where the conversation about diversity in film went after last year’s Oscars — and for the life of me I can’t remember.
During the weeks leading up to the announcement of the Oscar nominations each January, there is usually a very positive feeling that diverse films and talent will be recognized. This year was no different, with Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation and Tangerine all garnering attention and applause in different ways, just like the wonderful work of Will Smith and Idris Elba and the entire cast of Straight Outta Compton and its director, F. Gary Gray. Even so, none of them were nominated and, for a second year, the public and a growing segment of the film community are outraged.
Once again, we’re going to spend the month leading up to the Oscars, on Feb. 28, engaged in a conversation about the lack of inclusion and diversity. But this conversation shouldn’t only happen each February — the shortest month of all, no less. We should commemorate and remember and celebrate the rich and incredibly vast talent and ability of diverse peoples year-round, at every given opportunity.
The Academy has just announced some bold steps to try to ensure that its membership and the work it celebrates reflect society’s diversity and differences. My hope is that in March and the months to follow, this conversation will continue within the Academy and, most importantly, throughout our industry.
Kweku Mandela, a grandson of the late Nelson Mandela, is president of Out of Africa Entertainment, one of South Africa’s largest film and TV production companies, and a producer whose credits include The Bang Bang Club and Inescapable.