As of March 15, 2021, our nation prepared to experience the 93rd annual anniversary of the Academy Awards. Over the years, our nation has experienced a whirlwind of things, and diversity is arguably one of the most controversial yet. As we all gathered around, on the edge of our seats, waiting to hear who will carry on the tradition of being the best of the best, no one was prepared to be as astonished as the world was.
The nominees for the 2021 Oscars screamed diversity; not only diversity among races, but the diversity of appearance, gender, genre, and so much more. This year, everyone had the opportunity to witness and even experience an entirely new show. Nominees stretched from African American to Asian American, from older men to young women, and from experienced actors and actresses to the fresh faces of newcomers.
Not long ago, Julia Phillips took the title as the first woman to win a Best Picture Oscar in the year 1977. Carving the pathway for the success of women in the film industry, more women started being recognized for their outstanding performances. While this is true, it wasn’t until March 7, 2010, when Kathryn Bigelow was pronounced the first and only woman to win an Academy Award for best director. It was a strong and lengthy 81 years until America started to reach these more recent victories. It was a triumph in itself to be an award winner as a woman, and even more, a woman of color. Since 1929 when the Oscar Awards first began, there has only been a total of 19 black actors and actresses, 8 Indian, 1 Arab actor, and more to have ever won an Oscar award. This year, our nation gets to celebrate a total of 9 actors of color that were nominated, which sets an Oscar diversity record in the specific categories. As society sees these changes and accomplishments, it encourages many to view the people involved in the arts much differently.
Nominated for the best actor in a leading role, the world mourns the loss of actor Chadwick Boseman. Best known for his leading roles in Black Panther, 42, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and many more, Chadwick Boseman was lost his battle to colon cancer at the age of 43 in August of 2020. Most popularly known as Marvel character Black Panther, he continues to play the hero role in the hearts of many. Chadwick Boseman’s ability to take on any role and accentuate the power of character he is portraying was one of many reasons why he was nominated. Chadwick Boseman gave his life to acting; the art of sending someone into an entirely new universe as they explore the lives of his characters. Boseman graduated from Howard University where he fought for Black lives all over. He took this activism into the roles he played as he embodied an array of excellent Black figures. Chadwick Boseman left an impactful stamp on the world and in the film and arts industry.
Due to the pandemic, the Oscars are looking a bit different this year. Instead of having everything online, Zoom speeches have been announced to be no longer allowed. Instead, the only people allowed to attend the Oscars are the nominees and their guests, along with the hosts and presenters. However, not long after the announcement was made, the Oscars began to receive backlash and inquiry regarding why Zoom speeches are banned. Nominees also voiced concern for their personal safety and ability to travel to attend. According to Ross Bonaime, author of Oscars Will Loosen Up Eyebrow-Raising Zoom Restriction at This Year’s Show goes more into depth by explaining that “The producers also have stated that they hoped attendees would stay away from “casual” dress.” Fear for lack of tradition and causal clothing is one of the large factors that drove the producers of the Oscar Awards to want to maintain in-person assembly. Many agreed with how absurd this excuse is, and voiced concerns lead to a change in the producer's approach on things. It has been released that the producers of the Oscars have been considering a similar layout as the Grammys that took place on January 26, 2020. The new approach consists of only a selected number of nominees and presenters entering the theatre at a time. Instead of everyone in one room all at once, there will be different times that each group comes in. There was also a mention of constant sanitation after each nominee and presenter finishes up their speech and award distribution; social distancing will be enforced through announcements and at least a 6-foot distance between each available seat. However, the question still stands in regards to how and when Zoom speeches and presentations will occur for those who can not or refuse to attend.
The past year has come with plenty of surprises and changes leaving us all in need of necessary adjustments. The Oscars has defined a great deal of changes as many can see. The power of diversity and the voice of the people have made a large impact on the way people will view the Oscars and other awards nationwide. This year, the Oscars introduce things that make it an Academy Awards the world has never seen before.