Protests that were planned for Sunday over the lack of diversity among Academy Award nominees were canceled at the request of “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, organizers said.
“The Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network has agreed to forgo our planned protests of the Oscars today and pursue instead a direct dialogue with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” the local chapter’s political director, Najee Ali, said in a statement.
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The annual awards show has drawn criticism over what many see as snubs for the director and star of the civil rights drama "Selma," along with the paucity of diversity among the nominees.
This year’s 20 acting nominee slots are filled entirely by white performers for only the second time since 1998.
Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris even kicked off the show's opening sequence by quipping, "Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest."
Such an opening for the show "makes the whole world realize that the academy has a diversity problem that is not going to go away," Ali said in an interview.
A Times study from three years ago revealed that the academy was 94% white, with a median age of 62.
Since then, the academy has added more women and members of minority groups -- but according to the most recent survey, the percentage of older white men in the organization has dipped by only about 1 percentage point.
The academy is composed of about 6,000 members, each with lifetime terms.
Ali said the civil rights organization will continue to advocate for greater inclusiveness in the entertainment industry.
“We salute all the artists being celebrated today at the Oscars while demanding an examination of the sidelining and underrepresentation of artists of color and women artists,” Ali said in the statement.
“Art can change the world, and the world is more diverse than this year's honorees.”
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