April Reign has been leading the charge -- online and otherwise -- calling for greater diversity in Hollywood with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Now, as the Academy Awards approach, airing Feb. 28, the former attorney and managing editor of BroadwayBlack.com announced via Twitter the next step in her strategy to hold the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and broader Hollywood accountable.
"Don't reward the #Oscars telecast w/ your viewership next Sun if stories featuring you aren't being shown on the big screen," she tweeted.
Reign (@ReignOfApril) is calling for people to join her in live-tweeting 1999's "The Wood," starring Omar Epps and Taye Diggs, available on Netflix, instead of watching the show. This follows a similar plan she helped initiate last year where folks were encouraged to live-tweet "Coming to America," a film she says "regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, gender, [everyone] knows."
And that is the main reason for the movement which began as a hashtag.
"That's the point of #OscarsSoWhite: if a quality film is made, ALL people will go see it & enjoy it," she tweeted. "We need more inclusive films like that."
Last year, the Oscars telecast was the lowest ranked in six years. Reign believes the movement had something to do with that.
Since the hubbub following the all-white slate of acting nominees -- for the second year in a row-- the academy announced a number of substantive changes to its membership and voting policies. It also made a commitment to diversifying its ranks with women and minorities by 2020.
Reign commented that such changes "will make a significant difference."
"I appreciate the fact that the vote was unanimous, which indicates to me that the academy is serious about making the organization more inclusive and more diverse," she said in an interview with The Times. "I've spoken about my concern that some of the older academy members still have a vote even though they aren't active in the film industry and that appears to be addressed. The fact that they will be proactively looking for more diverse members is [also] exciting."
But be not mistaken that the fight for greater diversity is not over, she warned. When asked what she would say to academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Reign answered: "I would say: 'Thank you. Thank you for listening. Now, what's next?'"
For those not wanting to watch "The Wood," Reign made her plea clear that the goal is to show collective unity in affecting the ratings of the Oscars telecast -- so, watch what you will, just not the Academy Awards. The goal is to get #OscarsSoWhite trending during the telecast as it did last year.
"As we have been doing, let's send a message to Hollywood by using the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag next Sunday night," Reign tweeted. "The time for change is now."
Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.
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