Following the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) nominee announcements last week, the nominated celebrities were in high spirits, with many expressing their gratitude for the honourable consideration.
But even with the excitement of the nominations, questions arise about what these nominations and the consequent wins will mean for the Oscars thereafter- which have had a long history being called out for a lack of diversity.
Scheduled for March, the Oscars (Academy Awards) are under pressure to show how and if they have grown from their non-inclusive past.
Insider magazine reports that the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was birthed in 2015 after nominations for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to include any people of colour in the top four acting categories.
“Since then, the Academy’s nomination process each year has been met with increasing scrutiny with many observers saying its diversity problem isn’t only about race. It’s also about how the Academy has made it difficult for women to be recognized,” the magazine writes in its 2021 report, A complete breakdown of the Oscars diversity problem over the past decade.
If the nominations, which came hot on the heels of the controversy-ridden Golden Globes are a true reflection of the Academy Awards, the issue of lacking inclusivity and diversity is still far from being resolved.
While white nominees took a majority of the slots, the SAG potentials picked a little from minority groups.
King Richard, which The Hollywood Reporter describes as having a “majority non-white cast” received nominations for the accolades; one for outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role (Will Smith) and another for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.
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CODA, a romance drama that follows the story of a teenage girl who is a child of deaf adults- the only hearing member of her family featured deaf cast members and also had nominations.
“In the original French production of CODA, the actors were taught sign language, but were not deaf. However, the remake boasts the authentic acting of having all three main actors as deaf,” the Cheatsheet, a showbiz website reports.
The report also notes that the survival thriller series Squid Game secured nominations and becomes the first non-English series and first Korean series to earn a nomination for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama.
“Previously, only three projects with completely or majority Asian casts have been recognised, all on the film side: Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, Parasite in 2020 and Minari last year. Parasite (which won) was also the first Korean project to receive a nomination, though its individual performers were snubbed across the board that awards season,” the magazine reports.
The SAGs were under pressure to deliver an inclusive and diverse nominee list, considering that they had been widely criticized for recognising mostly white actors just two years ago.
“The lack of inclusive film winners is another disappointing development in an awards season that, just in recent weeks, has seen the BAFTA Awards fail to nominate any actors of colour for its film honours and the Golden Globes dole out most of its awards to largely white recipients across film and TV, with Ramy‘s Ramy Youssef and The Farewell‘s Awkwafina, snubbed by SAG-AFTRA before being left out of this year’s Oscar nominations, among the exceptions,” the Hollywood Reporter noted in 2020.
And since the SAG awards has been described as “a reliable indicator of what could happen at the Oscars”, the nominations become all that more important.
Last year, the Oscars were under fire for snubbing actors and film creators of colour. The most widely debated snub was that of the late Chadwick Boseman, who had been nominated for Best Actor in a leading role for his performance on “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”.
In 2020, the Oscars attempted to answer questions about its inclusivity and repair its faltering reputation. The award show announced changes to the Best Picture category in an aim to “make Hollywood more diverse”.
The heavily scrutinised SAG nominations come days after an awkward and far from usual Golden Globe Awards.