There are seven people of color nominated for acting Oscars this year, compared to zero in both 2015 and 2016.
“Real progress has been made,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at the Feb. 6 Oscar Nominees Luncheon, according to Vanity Fair.
Octavia Spencer is one of those actors, nominated for her role as a NASA mathematician in the film Hidden Figures. But in an interview with Deadline, Spencer was quick to point out that the diversity of this year’s movies has nothing to do with last year’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign, because films generally take more than a year to make.
“When you know how movies are made, the explosion of films with people of color is not a reaction to #OscarsSoWhite,” Spencer said. “The tide has changed, but we still have a ways to go, because they still aren’t inclined to greenlight a movie that’s starring a person of color, without a long list of white box-office people.”
Naomie Harris — who’s nominated for best supporting actress for Moonlight — echoed Spencer’s sentiment during an interview with New York Magazine. These films were in production or preproduction for years before all of this,” she said. “I don’t like the way that they’re used as a response to that. And people are saying, you know, ‘Isn’t it amazing in a year how things have changed as a result of that campaign?’”
Spencer offered a simple way to make a difference at the box office: “If I look down a list of characters on a film, and it doesn’t have gay, African-American or Latin characters, I’m probably not going to spend my money on the ticket,” she said. “When we stop supporting things with our dollars that don’t represent all of us, then you’ll see an explosion of diversity.”