Prof. Ocen publishes op-ed on lack of diversity in Hollywood

Associate Professor Priscilla Ocen published the op-ed, "Whose version of diversity did the Oscars celebrate?" on Al Jazeera's website.


In many ways, Hollywood is a fenced-off community. It serves as the guardian of public accolades for excellence in film and representation. Yet, its gatekeepers are still overwhelmingly white, male and old, while the world it seeks to depict is the opposite. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is no different from broader trends in Hollywood itself. The voters who determined the winners of the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2 are a testament to the white homogeneity and hegemony in Hollywood.

People of colour have always been on the margins of Hollywood. Recognition for the narratives and films that critically engage the lives and histories of people of colour have consistently been overlooked. Oscar nods to Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx were generally lauded as moments of racial progress, allegedly highlighting an industry moving away from racial exclusion and toward diversity.

Yet, unmasking the meaning and motivations behind Hollywood "diversity" reveals that gatekeeper politics - not racial progress - dictates which people of colour are let inside, and the shape, complexion and colour of the faces that remain fenced outside of Hollywood's gates.

Read the complete op-ed.