Oscars becomes a platform for transformation

The 2017 Awards season will be remembered for its amount of recognition for minority groups.

The Academy Awards, which has been known for its lack of diversity, transformed this season. The Academy attempted to diversify by adding a group of 683 brand new voters to their panel. On 26 February, the Oscars awarded more than three people of colour for the first time in 89 years. One of the winners was Mahershala Ali, who won for his supporting role in the film Moonlight. Ali is also the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Moonlight is the first LGBTQ-themed film to take home the coveted Best Picture award.

Viola Davis made history by becoming the first black female to win an Emmy, Oscar, and a Tony award for acting. Davis received her Oscar in the category Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Fences.

Even though there has been improvement in the representation of minorities in the entertainment industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. The wage gap and lack of recognition for transgender people in the industry is something that needs to be looked into.

The Oscars also provided a platform for celebrities to advocate change and to challenge the current political atmosphere in America. Celebrities have often been criticised for using their fame to push their own stances, but current social and political climates are calling for it. Many of those who walked the red carpet this year donned blue ribbons with their formal wear. This was done to show support for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – an organisation that fights to protect the civil rights of all citizens. Ruth Negga, who starred in the film Loving, felt very strongly about the ACLU’s cause. Loving follows the story of an interracial couple who was supported and assisted in court by the ACLU. Model, Karlie Kloss, also pinned a blue ribbon in support. The ACLU reached out to notable celebrities attending the Academy Awards to spread awareness, as they have been busy since president Trump has started revoking and implementing laws. This is also why Moonlight winning best picture has been an incredible feat. The LGBTQ-themed film won the award right after the Trump Administration reduced protections for transgender students by disallowing them to use facilities that correspond with their gender identities in public schools across the nation. Emma Stone was also seen wearing a badge with Planned Parenthood’s logo to show her support for women’s rights and reproductive healthcare. 


Illustration: Michelle Hartzenberg. 

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