The nominations
to this year’s Academy Awards are more diverse than ever. Coloured actors are
being tipped for the Oscar in each major category, while the Best Director
category has two female nominees for the first time in history, Chloé Zhao for
Nomadland; Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman. There is also a first-ever
Asian-American and Muslim nominee for Best Actor Steven Yeun for Minari and Riz
for Sound of Metal respectively.

The changes
in the Academy Awards are in line with this year’s BAFTA, after both awards faced
avid criticism for being too white in recent years. Both have changed their
membership criteria to include more women and people of colour among their
voters to better reflect society and this year’s awards seems to reflect the

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But are
these changes long-lasting or just an aberration caused by the global COVID-19
pandemic? Experts believe it’s a bit of both.  

In a column
on Deadline, American actor Dwayne Barnes wrote that the changes are a result of
the promises made by the Academy in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in
2015. That campaign was a result of years of an overwhelming majority enjoyed
by white people in the awards.

Back then,
a whopping 93% of the Academy’s 6,000 members were white and 76% male, according
to AFP. By this year, the women and non-white representation in that group has

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While the #OscarsSoWhite
and the #MeToo fallout has certainly gathered steam over the years, prompting
higher representation for women across the entertainment industry, the COVID-19
pandemic has presented a different set of challenges altogether.

theatres shut and big-budget projects – like the West Side Story and sci-fi
blockbuster Dune, which are both directed by White men – the industry has faced
a crisis like never before.

Stone, founder of the Awards Daily website, said that the knocking out of other
big movies has “left sort of a bare field”, adding that the “pared down
selection” of films in contention “happened to be movies by
filmmakers of color and women.”

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pandemic has also led to the rise of streaming platforms, which has brought to
the limelight a lot more diverse slate of films.

The question
still remains, whether the Oscars Awards is undergoing a long-term change or if
it is just a blip. Only time will tell.