CÁRDENAS CALLS FOR ACADEMY TO IMPROVE DIVERSITY
CÁRDENAS CALLS FOR ACADEMY TO IMPROVE DIVERSITY
(San Fernando Valley, Calif.) – U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-North Hollywood) today sent a letter to President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Cheryl Boone Isaacs to express his disappointment at the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscars nominees and to request a meeting between the Academy and the Congressman.
In the letter, Cárdenas calls attention to the deep diversity problem in the entertainment industry, calling for a meeting with the Academy to work towards a solution that will make Hollywood fully reflective of the diversity of our nation.
“As a Latino and an engineer, I know what it’s like to be in a work environment full of people who don’t look like me,” said Cárdenas in the letter. “Throughout my career as a small business owner and as an elected official, I have surrounded myself with a diverse environment and promoted policies and hiring practices that are reflective of our community’s vast diversity.”
Out of the twenty actors and actresses nominated for leading and supporting roles in the 2015 Oscar ceremony this Sunday, none are Latino, African American or Asian, despite the fact that these groups now comprise 35 percent of the US population. According to a 2012 Los Angeles Times study, membership of the Academy is 94 percent white and 77 percent male.
Cárdenas would like to meet with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to discuss current efforts to improve diversity within the Academy and in the broader entertainment industry, and to work together to find solutions to the problem.
Cárdenas continues, “[The Academy is] in a unique position to help influence this change in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. As an ambassador for the industry, [the Academy] can support and ensure the diversification of our schools, stages, board meetings and production rooms.”
The San Fernando Valley, which Cárdenas represents, is known as the entertainment capital of the world and is not only home to major movie studios, but also the thousands of people who work in those studios, and in hundreds of entertainment industry contractors. In advocating for diversity in the entertainment industry, Cárdenas draws on years of speaking out for underrepresented Latino and minority voices at a national and local level, across industries.
The letter is printed below.
February 17, 2015
Ms. Cheryl Boone Isaacs
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, California 90211
Dear President Boone Isaacs:
I write to express my shock at the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscars nominees. While the issue of diversity in the entertainment industry is a much deeper problem, without an easy solution, it is unfortunate to see such a revered American institution fail to fully reflect our nation.
Hollywood and film portray who we are as a people and what we value as a culture. When we fail to include diverse, talented faces, reflecting both today and tomorrow’s America, we send a poor message to our youth and the world. We are not celebrating the diversity that makes this country unique. I believe we must do better.
I represent a district with one of the greatest amounts of spending on film industry vendors, so I appreciate just how important the industry is to our local and national economy. I want to work with you to improve diversity in the entertainment industry and in Academy membership. I understand this endeavor will take time to achieve, but I am committed to working with you to make sure the industry is more reflective of the rich diversity of the city it calls home.
I am also interested in learning about the actions you are taking to promote diversity and add new and varied voices to the current media conversation. You are in a unique position to help influence this change in Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a whole. As an ambassador for the industry, you can support and ensure the diversification of our schools, stages, board meetings and production rooms.
As a Latino and an engineer, I know what it’s like to be in a work environment full of people who don’t look like me. Throughout my career as a small business owner and as an elected official, I have surrounded myself with a diverse environment and promoted policies and hiring practices that are reflective of our community’s vast diversity. I have always been conscious of making sure that opportunities are available to talented and qualified people. I want to work with you to improve diversity in the Academy membership and the entertainment industry in a similar fashion.
I would like to meet with you to begin a dialogue on how to build a more diverse entertainment industry to better represent the diversity of our nation and the world.
Please contact my Chief of Staff Sam Jammal at (202) 225-6131 to set up a time to meet. I look forward to working together on finding solutions to this problem that affects us all.
Member of Congress
John Bailey, Cinematographers Branch
Curt Behlmer, Sound Branch
Annette Bening, Actors Branch
Kathryn Bigelow, Directors Branch
Jim Bissell, Designers Branch
Jon Bloom, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch
Dick Cook, Executives Branch
Richard Edlund, Visual Effects Branch
Leonard Engelman, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch
Rob Epstein, Documentary Branch
Charles Fox, Music Branch
Rob Friedman, Public Relations Branch
Mark Goldblatt, Film Editors Branch
Kathleen Kennedy, Producers Branch
Jeffrey Kurland, Costume Designers Branch
Phil Robinson, Writers Branch
David Rubin, Casting Directors Branch
Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Pictures
Sean Bailey, President, Walt Disney Pictures
Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures
Doug Belgrad, President, Columbia Pictures
Jim Gianopulos, Chairman and CEO, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures