Gearing up for the Academy Awards next weekend

Nominations include more people of color this year after the Oscars were previously criticized for their lack of diversity.
3:36 | 04/17/21

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Transcript for Gearing up for the Academy Awards next weekend
the Oscar nominations more diverse than ever some are hoping this is real progress and hashtags like oscars so white may be a thing of the past. ABC's zohreen shah has more from Los Angeles ahead of next weekend's big awards show. Zohreen, good morning. Reporter: Good morning, whit. There are 20 top acting spots at the oscars, in 2015 and 2016 every single one of those went to a white actor or actress. Not this year, though, the change is dramatic with some very big firsts. And here are the all male nominees. Reporter: For years Hollywood awards shows have been criticized for lack of diversity for their nominees. Cynthia did such a great job in "Harriet" hiding black people that the academy got her to hide all the black nominees. Reporter: This year Reporter: This year the oscars are already breaking barriers before the big night. Crazy as I can be Reporter: Viola Davis with her fourth Oscar nomination becoming the most nominated black actress in Oscar history for her lead role in "Ma Rainey's black bottom." Out of the 20 top acting roles, nine this year are performers of color and six are black after there was only one last year. We are now harnessing all of our talent, all of our ingenuity and we are literally demanding to be seen. Reporter: And for the first time asian-american and Muslim best actor nominees. I'm happy that we get to see a business and a reality now where we can see eclectic points of view. Reporter: Steven yeun for " Minari," and riz Ahmed. It changed me and all of us. It was a labor of love. Reporter: Chloe Zhao, the first woman of color ever nominated for best director saying this at the bafta awards. If this needs more people like me that get to leave their -- live their dreams, I'm very grateful. Reporter: Today Zhao and emerald Fennell -- I'm so proud of everyone who worked on this film. Reporter: Many representing minority groups and their movies also representative of a larger cultural moment. Several films like "Judas and the black messiah" and "The trial of the Chicago 7" touching on social justice issues. I think a lot of these films share this social justice fiber that it feels contemporary even though all of these films are period pieces. All of these movies feel so timely because they are so timely. We've been talking about the same issues for decades and generations. Reporter: Okay, so it is still too early to celebrate a diversity win. One example, the directing "The New York Times" reports that the first woman of color ever nominated in that category got $5 million to direct her movie. The most a woman has ever gotten in that category is 15 million. That was Kathryn Bigelow, meanwhile, it is not rare for a man to get tens of millions. Whit. All right, zohreen shah for us. Really some incredible movies and a lot of them as she noted there very timely to what's happening in the world right now. Of course, be sure to check out ABC's audio podcast. This is "Inside the oscars," a fun look at this year's Oscar nominated movies and everything that changed in the wake of the pandemic. Next episode drops on Thursday.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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