Hidden Figures

Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer, leading the “Colored Computers” of NASA, in Hidden Figures [Image via 20th Century Fox]

For years, Hollywood has given the impression (intentionally or not) that all heroes and heroines are white. African-Americans can be sidekicks, or villains, but they are rarely protagonists. A great many people have complained that Hollywood does not given African-American actors, directors, and scriptwriters a fair chance. Specifically, there have been complaints that the Oscars ignore actors who are African-American, Asian-American, Native American, etc. There are a few rare exceptions, like Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington, but these exceptions are so few and far between that the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite complains that non-white actors are ignored.

This year, things are a little different.

There were six African American actors and actresses included among the nominees, the most in a single year in Oscar history. And for the first time ever, there was at least one Black actor or actress in all four acting categories,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nine movies are nominated for Best Picture this year. Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and Fences have mostly African-American casts. Lion is about an Indian man and stars British actor Dev Patel. Of the other five movies nominated for Best Picture, three have persons of color (POC) in leading roles. Arrival co-stars African-American actor Forest Whitaker, Hell or High Water has Comanche actor Gil Birmingham, and La La Land features African-American actor-singer John Legend.

Donnie Yen from ‘Rogue One’

Barry Jenkins, the director of Moonlight, is only the fourth Black person to be nominated for Best Director, and if he wins, he will be the first African-American to do so. Denzel Washington, the star and director of Fences, is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Ruth Negga, the star of Loving, is Irish-Ethiopian rather than African-American, but if she wins, she will be only the second Black actress to win Best Actress in a Leading Role. Two POCs have been nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali in Moonlight and Dev Patel in Lion. Three Black actresses — two African-American and one British — have been nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis in Fences, Octavia Spencer in Hidden Figures, and Naomie Harris in Moonlight.

Joi McMillon of Moonlight is the first Black woman to be nominated for Film Editing. Bradford Young of Arrival is the first African-American to be nominated for Cinematography.

Many SF movies had more POC actors than other films. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story featured two Chinese actors, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, Mexican actor Diego Luna, Pakistani-British actor-rapper Riz Ahmed, and African-American actor Forest Whitaker, who is also in Arrival. In Doctor Strange, British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Mordo and British actor Benedict Wong plays Wong. Suicide Squad had several non-WASP characters: Will Smith as Deadshot, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo and Adam Beach as Slipknot.

Why is this important to Krypton Radio? Why is it important to our listeners? Because we believe in infinity diversity in infinite combinations. Because, like Dr. Martin Luther King, we think Lt. Uhura is a role model. Because we think Lt. Sulu, Col. Tigh, and Lando Calrissian should be more than just tokens. Because we believe diversity matters.

Approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population is African-American. Roughly 17 percent of the United States is Hispanic. Over 56 million people — 19 percent of Americans — have a disability,” reported The Inquisitr. Krypton Radio doesn’t believe Hollywood should ignore roughly a third of the United States population. As Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer said in Hidden Figures, “When one of us advances, we all advance.”