Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Check This Out: Academy Awards President Discusses "Oscars So White" Dielmma

Left to right: Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Janice Min
Over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of discussion regarding the representation of race in the Oscar nominations. For the most part, the conversations have been held by those who have felt slighted in some way by the diversity problem. There's been positive and negative so far with more on each side building every day. However, there's one person that we haven't heard too much from who is getting a raw deal in the situation: The Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. While she has made her own initiatives to improve the problematic situation at hand, she has been quiet in sharing her own thoughts on the backlash. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter's Oscar podcast Awards Chatter, she opens up in an hour-long episode with interviewer and Creative Chief Officer for THR named Janice Min with her own opinions on the matter, and her general goals for the year ahead.

*NOTE: You can download the episode for free here.

It isn't likely that people know Isaacs' name as much as her reputation. She has been president of The Academy since 2013 and is only the third woman overall (following Bette Davis and Fay Kanin) and the first African American to hold the honor. Over the past three years, she has helped to shape The Academy into what it is today. In the past year especially, she has worked on making initiatives to be more reflective of the modern era of cinema, focusing on diversity and giving outside voices a chance.

It is also rare that she does public interviews outside of The Academy's many sanctioned events. It's what makes her appearance on Awards Chatter particularly exciting, especially as she sits down with Min to discuss the past two weeks. The episode features a variety of topics, including her problem with people calling voters racist. It's an episode packed with plenty of topics relating to Oscars So White, including her own candid thoughts on Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, and even Charlotte Rampling. Even if it provides very little insight into how The Oscars are voted upon, she admits that nobody knows until a few days prior when they hold a very secretive meeting that involves taking their cell phones away. 

Overall, it's a very straightforward interview, but one that definitely gives a good idea of what Isaacs really feels about the matter at hand. She acknowledges that the format of The Academy is problematic, but she remains hopeful of change to come. With her term ending in August, she also feels contemplative on what her final months as president will look like. The episode features a lot more about this year's Oscars and provides a perspective that isn't often covered on these various awards shows. So check it out if you're obsessed with the Oscars So White fiasco and judge for yourself if Isaacs is as bad as you think, or if things just need to catch up with her ambitious ideals.

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