Oscar Nominations Continue to Lack Diversity in Top Categories: Critics Say

Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, said "we are going to continue" talking.

ByABC News
January 14, 2016, 6:12 PM

— -- The criticism about the lack of diversity in nominations continued for a second year after the Academy Award nods were announced Thursday in Hollywood.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was revived from one year ago when critics and social media commentators noticed that not one person of color was nominated for the coveted gold trophy in top categories such as Best Actor or Actress and Best Supporting Actor or Actress.

The critiques have reached Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who happens to be African-American.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs was not available for an interview with ABC News.

However, she told ABC affiliate, KABC-TV, "We are being louder and louder and we are going to continue this conversation and we're going to do more than just talk."

"The great thing is this -- like the women’s issue -- it's part of the conversation," Thelma Adams, a film critic for Gold Derby, told ABC News. "That's the most important thing."

Yesha Callahan, staff writer at TheRoot.com, said she is not surprised by the lack of diversity.

"It's Hollywood," she explained. "And Hollywood isn't going to change overnight. ...'Beasts of No Nation' was a good movie. You can't tell me that (Idris Elba's) performance didn't deserve any recognition. It wasn't a blockbuster movie, but there's a double standard when it comes to black movies."

Callahan added, "They said 'Straight Outta Compton' was a blockbuster and the only person that got a nod was the screenwriter and he was a white guy."

In fact, both screenwriters for the film centered on Compton rap group, N.W.A., Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff received recognition and yes, they're both white.

Since 1939, when Hattie McDaniel became the first black woman to win an Oscar for "Gone with the Wind," there have been about 50 blacks nominated in the four major acting categories. For Asian and Hispanic actors, the numbers are even fewer.

"The central issue is until you get people of color directing, writing and starring, the Oscars are going to be so white because that’s who the studios and even the indies are putting on screen," Adams said. "It’s the fountain that is tainted, not the Oscars."

Instead of trying to change Hollywood, Callahan suggested a different strategy.

"People need to support the awards shows that are supporting the black audience," she said. "You have the BET Awards, you have the NAACP Image Awards, and you have shows like that, which support these artists. As an artist, these are the award shows you show up to."

Adams suggested tuning into the small screen, whether it's broadcast, cable or streaming.

"That’s where you’re seeing diversity," she said. "It's changing on the television side, as its structure can appeal to niche markets."

It's also why there seemed to be more people of color at the Emmys and Golden Globes, both of which honor the best in television. Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series last September. She was nominated for a Globe for the same role in "How to Get Away with Murder, but another black actress, Taraji P. Henson, won instead.

So while Hollywood seems to be moving in the right direction on the small screen, it still has a long way to go on the big screen.

"Change is coming," Adams said, "but it didn’t come this year."

The 88th Academy Awards will be broadcast on ABC at 7 p.m. ET on Feb. 28.