The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated all white actors, actresses, supporting actors, and supporting actresses for this year's 2016 Academy Awards.
This, despite 2015 featuring critically acclaimed performances by Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson in “Creed,” Will Smith and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in “Concussion” and Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in "Beasts of No Nation.” There’s also the entire cast of "Straight Outta Compton” failing to receive a nod or an invite to the show.
Also left without a nominations was Ryan Coogler, the screenwriter and director of the record-breaking Rocky film, “Creed."
This led Black Twitter to take aim at the Academy like never before with the campaign #OscarSoWhite. This then led to Oscar boycotts (they won't call it a boycott, but we will) by Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith and her husband Will Smith. This then led to outrage that started a conversation in and out of Hollywood about how to diversify nominees and the industry in general.
The Academy responded by approving a series of major changes in terms of voting and recruitment, also adding three new seats to the 51-person board—all as part of a goal to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.
These changes are a great move in the right direction but we have more work to do!
Some critics have said that there aren’t enough Black people in Hollywood, which is a part of the diversity gap. Well, to shut that down (see everyone above, plus ABC Entertainment's new president, Channing Dungey) and to honor the #OscarSoWhite campaign and REVOLT’s own #BlackExcellence Black History Month initiative, here are 10 Black power players who are poised to change the game in Hollywood.
Courtney Kemp Agboh, Showrunner & Executive Producer
Before she created the Starz’s hit series, Power, Courtney Kemp Agboh wrote articles for GQ about interracial dating. After she caught the eye of a few TV producers, Agboh became a writer on Fox’s The Bernie Mac Show and ABC’s legal drama Eli Stone. Those writing stints led to her becoming a producer for CW’s Beauty and the Beast and CBS’ The Good Wife. The journalist-turned-screenwriter has joined a very exclusive club of Black women showrunners in Hollywood.
Steven Caple Jr., Director & Screenwriter
Straight outta USC’s world-renowned film school, Caple’s short film "A Different Tree," earned several honors, including the Director’s Guild of America Student Film Award and recognition at the HBO Short Film Competition. The Cleveland native is opening eyes and turning heads again with "The Land," which premiered during this year’s The Sundance Film Festival. Executive produced by Nas and staring R&B singer Erykah Badu and rapper Machine Gun Kelly, the film’s focus on four friends overcoming poverty is starting powerful dialogues in communities everywhere. Caple is definitely a rising star in the game.
Danai Gurira, Actress & Playwright
After graduating from NYU’s storied fine arts program, Gurira wrote and starred in a number of off-Broadway and Broadway plays, including "In The Continuum," Joe Turner’s "Come and Gone," and "Eclipsed." In 2007, Danai took her talents to the television screen with roles in The Visitor, Ghost Town, 3 Restless City, Law & Order, Life on Mars, Treme and of course, The Walking Dead, which has made her a worldwide sensation. In January 2016, it was announced that Gurira would join the cast of the 2Pac biopic, "All Eyez on Me."
Corey Hawkins, Actor
The Julliard School grad is making his mark on Hollywood after a breakout performance as Dr. Dre in the highly-successful biopic "Straight Outta Compton." He has since been casted in "Kong: Skull Island" alongside Samuel L. Jackson and landed the lead male role in Fox’s 24: Legacy. We will see the Hawkins name in the marquee for a very long time.
Charles King; Founder & CEO, MACRO Ventures
In January 2015, former WME partner, Charles King, launched MACRO Ventures, a multiplatform media company focused on producing content for underserved multicultural audiences. The Howard Law grad’s goal is to create a funding pipeline for powerful content and independent fillmakers. One of MACRO’s first film projects, "The Land," premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In the words of the almighty Drake, King is truly “on a mission tryna shift the culture.”
Nneka Onuorah, Documentary Filmmaker
Onuorah’s “The Same Difference” documentary has been stirring conversations all across the world. Nneka put a spotlight on the Black lesbian and bisexual community like never before as she explores the internal homophobia and gender roles that play out within that community. With sold-out screenings across the world, the film won the audience award for Best Documentary at NewFest Film Festival.
Alana Mayo; VP of Production, Paramount Pictures
At Parmount Pictures, Mayo plays a pivotal role in bringing major film projects into the studio fold. She has served as a studio executive on Alex Garland's "Annihilation," Will Smith’s "Bounty," Ava DuVernay’s "Selma," Adam McKay's "The Big Short," Michael Bay's "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" and Darren Aronofsky's "Noah." Mayo definitely has the film game on lock!
Nate Parker; Actor, Screenwriter & Director
The Birth of a Nation, The Birth of a Nation, The Birth of a Nation! Need we say more?! In 2013, Nate Parker told his agents that he would not act again until he could play slave revolutionary, Nat Turner. After investing over $100,000 of his own money and raising another $10 million, he shot the film in 27 days in May 2015. After premiering the historical slave rebellion drama at The Sundance Film Festival, Parker—the film’s writer, director, executive producer, and lead actor—received a prolonged standing ovation and instant praise. He would later win the festival’s U.S. drama grand jury prize and the Audience Award. The rights to the historical slave rebellion drama were purchased for $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight. Don’t be surprised if you see Parker on stage during Golden Globes/Oscar season next year.
Issa Rae; Actress, Screenwriter & Digital Studio Head
Rae is a game changer. After she saw how Hollywood type-casted Black women, Rae created, wrote and produced the online series, The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl. Rae’s series, in which she also stars,has garnered millions of views online, raising Issa’s profile to new heights and leading to features in Forbes, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Glamour, People and prime part of REVOLT's RMC 2015. Last year HBO picked up Issa Rae’s comedy series Insecure. Co-written by Rae and comedian Larry Wilmore, Insecure focuses on the (what else?) awkward experiences of a modern day African-American woman through the lens of Issa Dee, played by Rae. The woman version of Tyler Perry has officially arrived!
Lena Waithe; Actress, Producer & Screenwriter
Considered one of the most talented comedians in Hollywood, Lena Waithe made us all laugh in her role as Denise of the Netflix hit series, Master of None. After she built a career as a writer for Fox’s Bones and Nickelodeon’s How to Rock, Waithe went on to produce Dear White People and direct the short film “Save Me.” In 2014, Variety named Waithe one of its “10 Comedians to Watch.” With feature pieces in The Hollywood Reporter, Vogue and other major outlets, we all need to keep Lena on our radar as she becomes the “Master of All.”