Civil rights groups to protest Oscars over lack of diversity

Fri Feb 20, 2015 7:59pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Civil rights groups are calling for a boycott of Sunday's Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles to demand more diversity among Academy Awards voters after no actors from ethnic minority groups earned nominations this year, organizers said on Friday.

Activist and political commentator Al Sharpton's National Action Network, civil rights group Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable said they would demonstrate on Sunday before the televised ceremony.

"We are calling for a boycott of Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony," National Action Network political director Najee Ali said at a news conference. "We believe the Oscars needs more diversity within its membership."

The location of the Los Angeles demonstration has yet to be determined with police, Ali said.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, does not disclose the demographic breakdown of its roughly 6,100 members, but has long been criticized for being predominately white and male.

A 2012 investigation by the Los Angeles Times found Academy members were 94 percent white and 77 percent male. Members, who are selected for their work and recommended by existing members, had a median age of 62, the study said.

This year's nominations had no ethnic minority actors among the 20 nominees in all four acting categories, which spawned the trending Twitter hashtag "#OscarsSoWhite."

"It is very important that the Academy Awards and its leadership have a membership and a type of voting system that represents America," Ali said.

Notable minority exclusions this year include British actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay of Martin Luther King Jr. biopic "Selma," which earned a best picture nomination.   Continued...

An Oscar statue is seen outside the Dolby Theater during preparations ahead of the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson