Speaking Out Against Hollywood

The Oscars

Last year, we heard the world’s highest-paid actress, Jennifer Lawrence, speak out against women making less than men in Hollywood. Although Jennifer Lawrence banked $52 million last year–it was still $28 million less than the world’s highest-paid actor, Robert Downey Jr.

We all know that neither one them are suffering as far as the dough rolling in but more often than nought women are short changed in comparison to their male co-stars and we were glad to hear that Jennifer Lawrence was finally speaking out.

But Jennifer Lawrence is not the only person speaking out against what is happening in Hollywood. So is Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Recently, Jada-Picket Smith posted a video discussing the lack of diversity in Hollywood:
“Is it time that people of color recognize how much power, influence, that we have amassed, that we no longer need to ask to be invited anywhere?” she said, “Maybe it’s time that we recognize that if we love and respect and acknowledge ourselves in the way in which we are asking others to do, that that is the place of true power.”

“Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power — and we are a dignified people, and we are powerful. Let’s not forget it,” she added.

She continued with her remarks to the Oscars host Chris Rock, Pinkett Smith said, “Chris, I will not be at the Academy Awards and I won’t be watching but I can’t think of a better man to do the job at hand this year then you, my friend. Good luck.”

Soon after Jada Pinkett-Smith released her video, Spike Lee also announced he would not attend the Oscars because of a lack of representation in the nominees. Lee took to Instagram and wrote, “But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?! WTF!!”

Shortly thereafter there was a response from president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup” of its membership, and that it will be looking into the way it recruits members “in order to bring about much-needed diversity.”

I guess we all can agree or not that Hollywood is in need of making some serious changes!

Not too long ago, I was working for a year on a project to increase diversity. In my endeavor to do so I first appealed to the organization who hired me that “This place must look like what we see in America if they are to remain relevant in the 21st Century.” I can remember after making the appeal it seemed as though everyone was on board to make this happen, however after three months of working with various departments, I quickly realized that they only wanted to embrace the idea of diversity in “word” only but not in “deed.”

There were many departments that started to write demanding criteria for people who were interested in joining their departments. Keep in mind they did not have these criterions in place prior to the discussion about “Diversity” and “Inclusion.” The resistance I received was unbelievable.

After a year of working with this organization, I was able to understand why they did not make much progress in this area, and it boiled down to they wanted things to remain the same.

So to answer Spike Lee’s question, “But, how is it possible for the second consecutive year all 20 contenders under the acting category are white? And let’s not even get into the other branches. Forty white actors in two years and no flava at all. We can’t act?!

I’ve read the responses, “Why this happened,” and I applaud Cheryl Boone Issacs efforts, but I must say, “Isn’t this the 88th Oscars and we are still having the conversation about what we need to do to see that things change!” Will we have this same conversation next year?”

Let’s remember, “Power concedes nothing without a demand!”

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