Solomon: Oscar diversity impact will take a long time

Frances-Anne Solomon -
Frances-Anne Solomon -

TRINI-CANADIAN filmmaker Frances-Anne Solomon said the new diversity in the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science will take a long time to have an impact.

She was speaking during an interview on the Canadian television programme Your Morning.

Solomon, director of the Ulric Cross biopic Hero, and Tobago-born actor Winston Duke were among the 842 new members announced last July. Their names appeared alongside other invitees such as Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, singer/actress Lady Gaga and Guyanese-English actress Letitia Wright.

The interviewer noted complaints about a lack of diversity at the Oscars, seen in campaigns like #oscarssowhite, and asked how this will change with more ethnicity and more global voters.

"I think it will help. I think it will take a long time as you can see from the results this year."

She explained there are about 10,000 academy voting members and it is a life-long membership.

"So the only solution they had to get new voices in was to add new members."

She said about 1,000 new members were being added per year and this year half of the new members were women and a third people of colour.

"That's going to take a long time to have an impact. And the difficulties I think, the barriers are systemic. It's all kinds of different approaches that have to be taken: you have to have more films by people of colour actually being nominated (and) that means having a big enough marketing budget; you have to have more producers, more directors, more writers actually getting into those categories (and) being funded to make films; (and) you have to have actual people of colour having an impact on how the academy is structured. I think it is a complicated thing."

Asked if the situation was changing Solomon replied that it was.

"(But) it's not changing enough and it's not changing fast enough. I'm both inspired by how much it is changing and also completely devastated by how many barriers there are still."

She said the Golden Globes and the British Academy Film Awards, in terms of anticipating what perhaps was going to happen with the Oscars, "it is very dispiriting that basically all the awards are going to films by white men."

Solomon said voting is a big responsibility.

"Also I am going to vote with my heart and also my experience and my skills for a new world."

Asked about the process of becoming a member she explained you are nominated by your peers and that gets voted on by their entire category (directing, producing, PR et cetera) and then that is ratified by the board of directors.

"So it's quite a complicated procedure."

She said she does not know who nominated her but the first thing she knew she got an e-mail from African American filmmaker Ava DuVernay who said "congratulations, I hope you enjoy your membership."

She added: "I thought it was a joke and only hours later, when lots of other people began to write me, I looked it up and my name was on the list."


"Solomon: Oscar diversity impact will take a long time"

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