Hampton U. students await Sunday Oscars selections

By Norey P. Smith

The Academy Awards Board of Governors have come under fire regarding inconsistent votes affecting black actors and films in the recent years. This uproar has kept up an ongoing conversation among black moviegoers nationwide.

At Hampton University, a number of students eagerly await the Oscars this Sunday – televised from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood -- to witness the lineup of black-themed films expecting to be named as Best Picture, director, or actors in leading and supporting roles.

"The films that usually target a specific audience, the ones that we know should win like "Fences" might be upset. An example of this would be the year "Slumdog Millionaire" won for Best Picture." said Dr. Collin Richardson, assistant professor and pianist with the School of Liberal Arts.

The Board of Governors have a big role in deciding which nominees will win. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, had some comments on the scrutiny of the board in an interview with Marc Hogan from Pitchfork.com saying, "I don't think there's a race problem. Remember this is a peer-voted award, not a corporate entity. It's the 14,000 members of the Academy that makes it hard to be objective out of something that's inherently subjective."

Some students proposed the need for a more diverse Board of Governors after the past disappointments, such as 2015 nominee Michael B. Jordan falling short of a best actor nomination in a leading role in "Creed," yet Sylvester Stallone was nominated for best actor in a supporting role in the same movie.

In the past, Denzel Washington was awarded best actor as an antagonist in "Training Day" where he was fitting a stereotype but not in movies such as "Malcolm X" or "The Hurricane."

In 2002, Halle Berry was the first African-American woman to win Best Actress for her role in "Monster's Ball" after showing some skin, according to Richardson.

"This is why this year's Oscars are so important because we have so many movies lined up in each category," said Kourtney Hayslett, a senior computer information major from Marlborough, Maryland.

"'Moonlight' should be awarded because it speaks toward the deeper taboo the audience loves. It touches the LGBTQ community and substance abuse. 'Fences' is a well written playwright starring Denzel and Viola Davis, 'Hidden Figures'. has the women's vote, and the only other movies in the running are 'La La Land,' 'Hacksaw Ridge' with Andrew Garfield, 'Lion,' and 'Hell or High Water.'

"If we don't get awarded this year then it's just plain discrimination."

The Oscars, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, airs on ABC this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

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