Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first Black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to the criticism and outrage surrounding the lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Boone Isaacs affirmed that the Academy is ‘making strides’ to address the awards on-going lack of diversity track record going forward.

“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the Associated Press Friday evening. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”

Boone Isaacs told the AP that she is inspired to accelerate the Academy’s push for more diversity, but declined to comment when asked if she was embarrassed by the overwhelming number of white nominees.

Boone Isaacs informed the AP that the Academy is “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion” and that outreach to women and artists of color is a major focus for the organization.

Boone Isaacs made sure to mention Best Picture nominee, Selma, to address the root of the firestorm, as well as to highlight some diversity in this years nominations. Even with Best Picture and Best Song nominations, many felt Selma’s failure to garner nominations for director Ava DuVernay or star David Oyelowo showcased the Academy’s racial bias and discrimination.

“It’s nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It’s an award that showcases the talent of everyone involved in the production of the movie `Selma.’ What is important not to lose sight of is that Selma, which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people.”

“There is not one central body or group of people that sit around the table and come up with nominations,” Boone Isaacs explained. “It really is a peer-to-peer process.”

In a 2012 survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times, it was found the academy was 94 percent white, overwhelmingly male and with a median age of 62. A more recent survey found the percentage of older white males had dropped by one point, the Times said. The AP reports the Academy has nearly 7,000 members with no requirement to retire.

Boone Isaacs says the five best actor nominees — Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”), Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) and Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) — “are all at the top of their game.”

“There are quite a few actors this year at the top of their game.’ There are five nominees and this year, these were the five,” she said.

Read more at The Associated Press

Image Credits: Essence/Variety

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