The Changing Face Of Feminism
Women in Hollywood has been an increasingly important topic in the past two years. Whether it’s the issue of diversity, wage gap or even nabbing a role when an actress is above the age of 40, the women of Hollywood are speaking out against everything they face. We remember Viola Davis’s Emmy speech, Patricia Arquette’s one last year at the Oscar and of course Amandla Stenberg and Jennifer Lawrence declarations.
This year Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -known for its annual Academy Awards (Oscars)- President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has to face a new (but stronger) #OscarSoWhite backlash. Honorary winner Spike Lee and others (including Jada Pinkett-Smith) have vowed to boycott the February ceremony.
I can imagine Cheryl Boone Isaacs position is very uncomfortable right now. She is the first African American woman to hold this office, and the third woman after Bette Davis and Fay Kaning. On one hand she is the proof that things changes, on the other, she is an exception that proves the rules.
On behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences she issued a statement last Monday addressing overwhelmingly white batch of nominees, saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated” and vowing to redouble the organization’s efforts to diversify its membership: “In a unanimous vote Thursday night (1/21), the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”
An L.A. Times study of Oscar voters finds that their demographics are much less diverse than the movie going public. In 2012, The L.A. Times published an ambitious in-depth look at the secretive world of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters. The study looked at the roster of all 5,765 members.
What did they find? Academy voters were markedly less diverse than the moviegoing public, and even more monolithic than many in the film industry might have suspected. In 2012, Oscar voters were nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, Blacks made up about 2% of the academy, and Latinos were less than 2%. Oscar voters have a median age of 62, the study showed. People younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.
Academy leaders say they want to diversify. That’s a good thing for sure, and I may add it’s about time!
In the meantime and waiting for new progress, we’ve noticed that some magazines are opening it up to change and diversify their covers. Fashion industry has also a lot of work to do to improve diversity representation. Recently Elle US and Teen Vogue showed their willing of empowering new faces!
The Soul Édition was created to celebrate Soul culture and diversity, in every form of Art. Its was also created to empower women and their beautifulness based on this fundamental idea that representation matters. That is why we are celebrating theses February issues.
Each on their own way, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Priyanka Chopra and the young Amandla Stenberg, are shaping the new dynamics of feminism for the next decade and beyond, in entertainment industry and globally.
-Carole Bienaimé Besse
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