Actor Dwayne Johnson, also popularly referred by his ring name The Rock, has thanked the Academy for inviting him and said that “it means a lot for what it symbolizes.” He also congratulated his “talented peers” in a screenshot of a Variety magazine’s Twitter post that he posted on Instagram. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, better known as simply the Academy has been severely criticised from lack of diversity in terms of nominations, awards and representation. Dwayne Johnson father is a Black Nova Scotian and his mother is of Samoan heritage.
There have been accusations, not wholly unwarranted, that it has been the white heterosexual male who gets preference at the Academy. Sure, it is true for Hollywood as a whole too, but as its global representative organisation of American cinema, it is the Academy that remains in the cross-hairs most of the time, and rightly so. On Twitter, this criticism usually goes under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Over the years, there have been attempts to reform and the Academy has made a few genuine attempts at countering this criticism. This year, for instance, the Academy has decided to invite a record number of 774 new members belonging to 57 countries of which 39 percent are women and 30 percent are of difference races. Many Bollywood bigwigs like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai and others also figure in the list of invitees.
But is that all enough? Actor Halle Berry, who became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress in 2002, said that her win for her acting in Monster Ball movie meant nothing for diversity in Hollywood. She remains the only woman of colour to win the award. “I sat there and I really thought, ‘Wow, that moment really meant nothing. It meant nothing. I thought it meant something, but I think it meant nothing,” she said to Teen Vogue magazine.