Cheryl Boone Isaacs says she is ‘heartbroken and frustrated’ by the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar categories.
Boone Isaacs – who is the first African American and third woman to hold the role of president – has vowed to take “dramatic steps” to address the current issues facing the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Her promise comes after it was revealed that none of the nominees for best actor, best actress, best supporting actor or best supporting actress are performers of colour.
Following the announcement, a host of A list stars – including Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith – have threatened to boycott the 2016 awards, with this year’s host Chris Rock also facing pressure to drop out.
“Over the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond,” Boone-Issacs said in a statement.
“As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years.
“But the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly,” she added.
And it seems these promised changes cannot come quick enough, after the nomination announcement warranted a backlash on social media – with #OscarsSoWhite trending for much of the weekend.
Taking to Instagram to vent his frustration at the lack of ethnic diversity, director Spike Lee joined in the outcry.
“How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white?
“And let’s not even get into the other branches. 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”
Jada Pinkett-Smith also took to Twitter to express her outrage.
“At the Oscars people of colour are always welcomed to give out awards, even entertain – but we are rarely recognised for our artistic accomplishments,” she wrote.
“Should people of colour refrain from participating altogether? People can only treat us in the way in which we allow. With much respect in the midst of deep disappointment.”
The current average age of a member of the Academy is 63, while more than three quarters are men and 94% are Caucasian.