Where Were The People of Color?

Although I enjoyed the Oscars – what red-blooded American girl doesn’t appreciate the night of glitz and glam, it’s classic Americana – I had a nagging feeling throughout the show that I wasn’t able to place my finger on. 

James Franco and Anne Hathaway, while entertaining enough, weren’t half as good as a Billy Crystal or Alec Baldwin would have been…but that wasn’t it. 

I hadn’t seen any of the movies, so I really couldn’t pull for one over another…but that wasn’t it.

It wasn’t until half way through the show that I realized the severe lack of color at the event.  With the exception of Oprah, Halle, Jennifer, and Penelope & Javier (I’m not counting Morgan Freeman’s cameo appearance in the opening video sequence), I was shocked at the color-less event. 

Sure, you might be able to name a few colorful faces that I left out, but even if you add those two or three people, the lack of representation at last night’s show was an embarrassment to an industry that has made leaps and bounds in including people of color.    

I know, I know, you could make the argument that no African American or Latino actors/actresses starred in a role that warranted an Oscar nomination – and although you might be right – I still say, why weren’t they there to celebrate the industry’s most important day?  Why weren’t they there to champion their peers? 

My guess is that it had to have been some sort of coordinated boycott of the show.  Perhaps Black and Latino actors and actresses are simply fed up with the opportunities that are NOT available to them.  I’m not going to say that the opportunities aren’t there – there are plenty of roles that Blacks/Latinos could star in that don’t have to be written for a minority – it’s just that people of color are often times not envisioned in main stream parts. 

But I just need to put it out there that IF there were some sort of boycott of the Oscars, then Black and Latino Hollywood played a part in letting the country (perhaps even some parts of the world if they were watching) down.  They should have shown up.

I hate to seem like a conspiracy theorist but it had to have been a boycott right?  Look at the faces above – we’re talking Black and Hispanic actors and actresses with serious acting credits to their names.  Some of them are Oscar winners AND I left so many other names off – Jamie Foxx, Rashida Jones, Selma Hayek, etc. 

Perhaps I am naïve but you can’t convince me that these people were simply not invited.  Even if they weren’t nominated, I’m sure the Academy would have found it appropriate to invite them to champion their peers and celebrate in their industry’s main event. 

It just doesn’t seem feasible that ALL of these actors were busy on the industry’s most important night. 

Please don’t get me wrong – I appreciate all of Hollywood.  I plan on making time to see the King’s Speech and I think Colin Firth is an exceptional actor.  I will eventually see The Fighter as Mark Wahlberg’s talent is undeniable.  I’ll put Black Swan on my list as it looks good, it just looks a little creepy.  In other words, I am happy for the films that won.  They all seem extremely deserving. 

I am just disappointed with Black and Latino Hollywood’s boycott of the event.  These minority actors and actresses were given an opportunity that most people will never have.  This is a huge responsibility and they need to act like it is.  Just because they feel snubbed doesn’t mean they shouldn’t show up.  SHOW UP – let your presence be known.  Have those tough conversations with casting directors, screenwriters etc…hold the decision makers accountable and work to open their minds about the breadth of roles that minorities can take on.  No one said it would be easy, but as it relates to your field – you are the chosen ones.  Fight to bring about change in your industry.

p.s. – If you have any insight on this subject matter please let me know…were they actually there but just not on camera?  Did the Academy, in fact, not invite them?…I just highly doubt this, I could be wrong – it’s happened before!