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SAG-AFTRA – Power Of Portrayal – Inspiring Performances Driving Social Change

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media is the only research based non-profit working with the entertainment and media community to improve gender diversity in children’s media including more positive role models, equality of opportunity and diverse representation on screen.

On November 6, 2017 at the newly built SAG/AFTRA – Robin Williams Center in New York City, an inspiring group of six strong, diverse women from the film, television and sports world spoke about their personal careers and life journeys, looking for the strong women parts and opportunities.

Led by Madeline Di Nonno, CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the panelists included: Gabrielle Carteris, President, SAG-AFTRA; Swin Cash, Athlete/Sports Analyst; Megan Boone, Actor; Alysia Reiner, Actor and Activist; Maggie Siff – Actor and Producer. The women first spoke of choice and pivotal moments in their careers and in life, then about having a voice and power. Here are some highlights and take aways reported by each of the women.

Gabrielle Carteris, widely known for her role as Andrea, a studious newspaper editor in Beverly Hills, 90210 says that role was a transformational opportunity that changed her life.  It gave her great courage.  She still receives comments about this role, which had an incredible impact on her life and reflected society. As the president of Sag-AFTRA, she never imagined herself in this position, yet felt prepared having worked with Ken Howard, the prior President.  She believes being of service is the highest calling and also believes in paying it forward and using power for the good. This was a pivotal moment for her – exciting and frightening at the same time.

Swin Cash got recognition from playing basketball and, in the eighth grade got a modeling opportunity.  She focused on academics, majored in drama and theater and continued to play in sports. She was the first girl and first African American to be in the WNBA when it was started twenty plus years ago. She reached out to Robin Roberts as a mentor, when Robin was at ESPN, to help her make choices with her career. Currently she is the female lead on We Need to Talk a CBS Sports Network first-ever, nationally televised all female, weekly sports show. She rose from humble beginnings, inspired by her grandmother who owned her own home and encouraged her to create wealth. Service is an important part of her life as founder of both Swin Cash Enterprises LLC and Cash Building Blocks, LP, an urban development company that renovates and offers affordable homes for low-income families.  An Olympic medal winner in 2004, she feels her service to help women and underprivileged kids is essential.

Maggie Siff, grew up in an acting, academic and artistic family, went to Bronx High School of Science and then to Bryn Mawr College.  She got her MFA at NYU and started her career in theater.  Her first big break, in her 30s, was the role of Rachel on Madmen, never imagining a role in film and television. She didn’t think she belonged there. She auditioned many times for this iconic role, which she thought read like an amazing film script or play. In its 1958 setting, Rachel was an unusual character for that time, as the female head of a department store.  She connected to this character, claiming it was very familiar. The other point she made is that the writer’s room on this program had more female and diverse writers which made a great difference in character portrayal. Currently, she plays a powerful in-house performance coach and therapist to the head of a hedge fund company on Billionaire.  She claims women appreciate her in this professional role, committed to both her job and family. She uses Tony Robbins as her inspiration to step into her “biggest self.”

Alysia Reiner struggled in her 20s and 30s with her acting career and wondered if she should stay or go. It took a long time to get a part and her advice is to live your life and find your joy, while you are in that struggle. Early on, she did a one-woman show portraying Virginia Woolf at the Edenborough Festival.  She went through a period of grief and loss when her father died of cancer in ten days and was inspired to do a grief counseling film as a way of coping.  As an activist, she believes in art as science and has a deep respect for all women in all fields that create change and make a difference. She loves working on an all women crew for the freedom it provides. Orange is the New Black, the show she currently works on, has a 90% male crew, which gives it quite a different feel.  She is a strong advocate to be in service, and works for the women’s prison association in Tulsa, Oklahoma to aid incarcerated women.

Megan Boone studied theater and struggled socially as a young woman. She was bullied while a student at Florida State Theater.  She studied with Jane Alexander and Ed Sherin, and in an impulse exercise with them, she decided to stick with acting. Her struggles led to an audition on Blacklist for the role of Liz Keene. She knew this was her part.  Megan is working on a sustainable business degree, as she is concerned with our natural environment.  As an advocate for policy change, inspired by Corey Booker and Kristen Gillebrand, she works for solutions in the public/private sector.

The panel stressed the importance of service in these most difficult times we live in and how we need to continue the fight for gender, race and the natural world.

By Terry Solowey

Camp Cool Kids – Perfect Summer Family Movie

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Camp Cool Kids
By Morgan B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Camp Cool Kids is a perfect movie for the whole family! Summer is the best time of the year for kids. We are out of school and the best kids’ movies play. I love that while I watched Camp Cool Kids, I came up with quite a few ideas on what to do for entertainment this summer. I can go outside and have fun with my family and friends. This is one of the many fun, eye-catching things that makes Camp Cool Kids so enjoyable.

I love that it includes all different kinds of sports such as swimming, rock climbing, paintball and archery. Every sport has its own scene and that is something that I really enjoyed. I was able to get a glimpse of each sport and see how they are played at summer camp. I have to say that my favorite scene would be where all the boys have a paintball war. It is hilarious and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Camp Cool Kids is somewhat religious based. They mention David and Goliath and other Bible stories. Grandpa Norman (Michael Gross) tells David’s tale and how he took on Goliath all by himself. His faith in God is what helped him through that journey.  The storyline is somewhat quirky and, although it’s not new, it does have a few twists and turns along with a new perspective. Spencer (Connor Rosen), my favorite character, is a shy, honest, goodhearted kid that wants to stay at home and be with his family during the summer. Grandpa Norman (Michael Gross) says it is time for Spencer to go to summer camp and make new friends. His older brother Dean (Sean Ryan Fox), the handsome, cool kid who seems like he has it all, goes to summer camp to make friends and meet girls. Shy Spencer goes a long way from home and off to Camp Cool Kids for the summer, against his wishes. Spencer meets many new friends that he will remember forever such as the adorable Tater (Jacob T. Phillips), his lovable twin Tot (Jordan A. Phillips), the man whose has got the fire, nickname Firefly (Tyree Brown) and the quirky, always-there-for-you kind of friend, Little John (Juliocesar Chavez).

Spencer also makes a new enemy as well, Zach (Logan Shroyer), the cute but not-so-kind villain. Zach and Dean become friends and amuse themselves by pulling a prank or two on the younger boys including Spencer, his brother. There are lots of pranks and silly fun in this adventure.

I recommend this for ages 7 to 18. Kids will love the idea of summer camp and will want to try some of the events. Adults will have memory flashbacks. It is full lessons, humor and heartfelt moments. I give this 4 ½ out of 5 swimming campers’ fun tale.

The Resilient Heart – A Must See If You Have Been Touched by Heart Disease

Friday, July 7th, 2017

The Resilient Heart explores the keys to preventing heart disease on a worldwide scale. At the film’s core is the story of Dr. Valentín Fuster, a world-renowned cardiovascular scientist, and Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his exploration of the heart at the molecular level, Dr. Fuster discovers that the real answer to defeating chronic disease lies in a much larger place: early education. By highlighting scientific contributions ranging from basic science to translational research, the film addresses the improvement of clinical and surgical care efforts to promote lifestyles that prevent or slow the progression of heart disease. Ultimately, it shows how the intersection of science, medicine, research, education and compassion bring about changes that are not only important but also replicable by physicians and patients throughout the world . The film follows Dr. Fuster and his team as they travel to Eldoret (Kenya), Bogota and more. If you or someone you know has ever been touched by a heart disease, you really must see this film. 

The Resilient Heart
By Samantha Marcus, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 17 

This inspirational film kept me glued to the edge of my seat. I didn’t know that heart disease is the number one killer in society today. It fascinates me that there are incredible individuals in this world such as Dr. Valentin Fuster who want to make a difference in the lives of others, especially with a disease that is so common.  

In this documentary promoting worldwide heart health, we see cardiologist Valentin Fuster working with doctors around the globe to help individuals realize that behavior is the key to combating heart disease. Traveling to countries like Kenya, Colombia and Grenada, Fuster works with both children and adults to help facilitate healthy behavior, through group therapy sessions, classroom instruction and community volunteering. 

Valentin Fuster has the biggest heart. He flies to other countries once a week to help people. He gets up at 4:30 every morning, works 7 days a week and works with kids for 15 years to help them understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. I wish I could meet him, because I would love to thank him for all of the incredible work he has done for kids and adults around the world.  

I really admire that the film is not based in a single geographical location. It is fascinating to see different cultures and compare them, and see how heart disease affects poor countries, which most people are not aware of. The fact that I was able to see how different areas of the world need so much help from future generations motivates me to follow in Fuster’s footsteps – first starting in my own community, then making my impact even bigger. 

My favorite part of this film is when Dr. Fuster talks about his motivation and says that if he died tomorrow, he would be okay with it, because he has helped so many people. This is rewarding to him. The message of this film is that we have the power to keep our hearts healthy. You can start focusing on heart health at any age and, although we can’t necessarily cure heart disease, we can prevent it by exercising, eating right and avoiding incredible amounts of stress. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to kids ages 12 to 18. Adults would love it too. No age is too young to begin taking care of your heart. You can watch this film on Amazon now! This is the documentary of a lifetime.

 

Megan Leavey – Explores the emotional bond between a human and an animal

Friday, June 9th, 2017

I really enjoyed this film. It explores the emotional bond between a human and an animal.

The film is based on the true story of marine corporal who forms a unique bond with a bomb-sniffing dog. Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) enlists to get away from what seems to be a hopeless civilian life. She is an aimless young woman with a deadbeat mom, Jackie (Edie Falco). Megan struggles to fit in as a Marine and, after a disciplinary hearing due to misappropriate behavior, is caught urinating outside of the Provost office after a night of drinking. She is assigned to clean up the K-9 unit under the command of Gunny Martin (Common).  Gunny Martin is a commander who uses tough love while being a mentor.

My favorite scene in the movie is when Megan finds out that she will get a dog to train and it turns out to be a can.  It seems that newbies practice training a dog with a can. It is a bit humorous but shows Megan’s determination to get a real dog. Megan bonds with an aggressive German shepherd name Rex and is given the opportunity to train him. Megan and Rex end up completing more than 100 missions, but an IED explosion injures them both and puts their fate in jeopardy.

Megan Leavey has lots of wartime violence, strong language and intense themes including trauma and grief. It also shows the strength of women and their accomplishments while not focusing on the brutality of war. This is an inspiring film that I believe is most suited for ages 13 to 18 as well as some adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.  It opens nationwide June 9, 2017 so, be sure to go see it and learn what happens to Megan and Rex.

The Mummy – Adventure, Action, Fantasy and Horror Combined

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

Though safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess, whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened in our current day bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia, and terrors that defy human comprehension. KIDS FIRST! Juror Juanita L. comments, “The story is not a new – disturbing an ancient evil which comes back to wreak havoc on everyone. However, the visuals are very exciting and explosive with a hint of suspense.” See her full review below.

The Mummy
By Juanita Seon Leary, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I enjoyed watching this updated version of the classic 1932 film, wearing 3D glasses and starring one of my favorite actors, Tom Cruise. The film combines adventure and action with a sprinkling of fantasy and horror.

Nick Morton (Tom Cruise), along with his partner Chris Vale (Jake Johnson) are soldiers of fortune who steal timeless artifacts from ancient sites and sell them to the highest bidders. While in the Middle East, the duo accidently uncover Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient princess awakened from her crypt beneath the desert after thousands of years. She uses her powers which evolve throughout the film to bring her revenge and furious rampage to the streets of London. 

The story is not a new – disturbing an ancient evil which comes back to wreak havoc on everyone. However, the visuals are very exciting and explosive with a hint of suspense. My favorite scene is when Ahmanet is held captive by chains, ropes and other devices to keep her from escaping. It shows her strength and power and, is the first time we’ve seen The Mummy as a woman.

You can expect strong, very loud fantasy action and violence with some blood spatters, guns and shooting, stabbings, fighting and punching, crashes and explosions, jump scares, zombies and a lab full of gross things. There are several mildly suggestive sexual references as well, including partly naked and somewhat obscured male and female bodies, kissing, a couple in bed together and other sensuality.

I recommend it for ages 13 to18 as well as some adults. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars.  It opens nationwide June 9, 2017 so, be sure to go see it and enjoy the action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Oscar – A Reflection on a Horrific Story from Not That Long Ago by Gerry O.

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Finding Oscar tells the heartfelt story of the small village of Dos Erres and it makes you feel inspired and outraged at the same time. There were many horrific events humanity witnessed in the last century – many wars, and lots of innocent people suffered. One event in Dos Erres, Guatemala was a terrible genocide that killed the entire village.

Finding Oscar is a documentary that reflects on historical events and educates people, especially the younger generation. The story that Finding Oscar delves into may seem unrealistic until the viewer realizes that these events really happened and that families were broken apart and young lives were cut short. The events were devastating and the tone of the film reflects that.

In the 1980s, Guatemala was in the midst of a horrendous civil war. In October 1982, the rebels, or guerrillas, attacked a convoy near a small farm village called Dos Erres. A special ops team of the Guatemalan government, very similar to the special ops of US, called Kaibiles, dressed as rebels and infiltrated the village, thinking there were weapons there. They divided the men into one building and women and children into another. Throughout the night, they tormented the entire population of the small village, especially the women and children. In the morning, the Kaibiles killed almost every person in the village, including the children. Only a few kids survived the entire massacre by accident. Two of them were then raised by the soldiers who killed their families.

In parallel, the documentary tells the story of people attempting to bring people responsible for committing the war crimes to justice. To do so and prove their involvement, they must find witnesses of the event, both the surviving kids and the soldiers who participated in the genocide. On top of that, the film looks into the neglectfulness of not only the Guatemalan government, but also the United Sates, which supported the Guatemalan government during the civil war, despite having intelligence about the Dos Erres Massacre and many others similar to it.

Finding Oscar takes a very complex situation and dissects it perfectly. Ryan Suffern (director, producer and co-writer) really tells this story in a masterful way. One aspect I absolutely love has to do with the story. Despite being filmed in the modern world, it talks about the events that happened in chronological order. Finding Oscar doesn’t look at the information as a documentary, but instead tells a story about people who either were connected to this tragedy or feel passionate about uncovering the truth and f inding justice. It begins with explaining the civil war and its causes. It goes on to explain the massacre and its immediate results. Another part that really adds to the effect of the story is the camerawork.

The scene I found the most impactful in this film has to be when one of the survivors gets reunited with his father more than thirty years later. At this point, the boy is grown and has a family of his own. His father, however, thought that the boy and the rest of his family, including eight children, had died in the genocide. The father realizes that he not only has a son and daughter in law, but grandkids as well. The scene is beautiful and so powerful that the entire audience cries.

The message and the story of Finding Oscar are important, but it has many mature elements. I recommend this to ages 13 to 18. The dark aspects of the genocide are rather impactful and unsuitable for younger children. However, I believe this is one of the films that everyone should watch so history doesn’t repeat itself. It is scary to think that these events took place in 1980s – not that long ago. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars for its inspirational story and superb cinematography that add to the power of the plot.

As Women’s History Month 2017 Comes To An End By Brianna Hope Beaton

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

I believe that all people are important for various reasons. However, since March is Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day was on March 8th, the importance of woman is near and dear to my heart. Instead of focusing on one person or even one group of people, I want to focus on the historical progression of woman’s rights in America.

In 1769, women had limited property rights. The colonies declared that women could not own property in their own name or keep any of their own earnings. Years later, in 1848, the first woman’s rights convention was held. Hundreds of activists gathered in New York, to work out a plan to obtain women’s suffrage nationwide. Well-known participants signed the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, modeled after the Declaration of Independence. It called for equal treatment of both genders under the law and voting rights for women.

In 1869, the racial equality problem pared with the arguments and disagreements over Amendments 13 to 15, dividing into two woman’s organizations – the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. The two came back together in 1890 to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. In the same year, the territory of Wyoming passed the first law that give women, over the age of 21, the right to vote. After Wyoming joined the Union, it established itself as the first state to allow a woman the right to vote. In 1872, Congress required federal equal pay for equal work. However, this law was unfortunately not extended to the majority of female employees working for private companies until the adoption of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Also in 1872, Victoria Woodhull claimed the title for being the first woman to be nominated for president, but ironically no woman was allowed to vote. Woman are reminded of this fact when, later in the year, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for trying to vote and was convicted of “unlawful voting.”

About 30 years later, in 1903, The Women’s Trade Union League was established, unifying women that worked and promoting better pay and working conditions. Nearly twenty years later, in 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified and women were finally able to vote!!!!! In 1963, the Equal Pay act became a federal law for all woman. In 1967, civil rights protections were extended to women. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued Executive Order 11375, which expanded the affirmative action policies of 1965 to cover discrimination based on sex.

A few years later, in 1972, Congress passed, Title IX of the Education Amendments, which required schools receiving federal funds to offer equal admission to educational programs for all genders. This law is credited with the fiery growth of sports for women and girls at the high school, collegiate and professional levels. The law took effect in 1976 after withstanding repeated court challenges. In 1973, the Supreme Court established the abortion right. In and after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court determined that a woman has the constitutional right to choose whether to have an abortion or carry her pregnancy to term. In the same year, the women-only branches of the U.S. Military eliminated. Women became intergraded into all branches of the U.S Military. Five years after that, in 1978, employment discrimination against pregnant women was banned. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act ensures that employment discrimination on account of pregnancy is treated as unlawful sex-based discrimination. And last but not least, in 2009 the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law. The new law changed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which stated that discrimination complaints must be brought within 180 days of the discriminatory act.

As you can see, woman’s rights have come a long way. It’s good to know and understand the trials and tribulations that those who came before you had to go through for you in order to do the things that you, as a woman can do today. I hope you enjoyed your International Woman’s Month and celebrated how far we have come.

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

My Anime Addiction By Clayton Pickard, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The first film that turned me onto anime was Fullmetal Alchemist. The intense, adventurous action of Edward and Alphonse Elric captivated me. I find the entire idea of alchemy quite fascinating. The first time I watched this film, I was unaware of the elaborate history of alchemy. I watched it again when I was a bit older and understood it and enjoyed it even more. I was highly bewitched by the dark background of Edward and Alphonse and what Edward sacrificed for his brother. After watching this film, both the original and the Brotherhood version a total of six times, I was finally prepared to dig deeper into the enslaving ways of anime.

The next anime I watched was Seven Deadly Sins which is very similar to Fullmetal Alchemist. They both use the Sins as essential characters, but portray them in different ways. In Fullmetal Alchemist they are the central villains that the Elricks must overcome to accomplish their dire objective. In Seven Deadly Sins they are portrayed as the preeminent heroes of the story who are sadly misunderstood by the public as monsters. After watching this series, I went onto Hunter X Hunter which is where my binding animobsession really began.

I have watched Hunter X Hunter (148 episodes; 22 minutes each) five times. The first time I watched this show I stayed in my room, binge watching it, for two and a half full days until I finished it. This is, by far, the most emotionally intense and adventurous show I have ever seen. The main characters are very relatable and remind me of my own childhood. It is about a young boy named Gon whose father abandoned him in order to take the Hunter Exam. Gon is taken in by one of his father’s childhood friends and raised by her until he decides to take the Hunter Exam, in order to search for his father. The rest of the show is Gon’s journey searching for his father, who doesn’t exactly want to see him. He feels guilty for leaving his son many years ago and makes it as difficult as possible for Gon to find him. After finally getting off my deep addiction to this show, I turned to Sword Art Online to quench my anime thirst.

Sword Art Online is highly intense and thrilling. I ended up getting sucked into it and watched it seven times. This show is about a teenager named Kirito who luckily gets his hands on a highly anticipated game, Sword Art Online. Sword Art Online is a action packed MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) that allows you to dive inside the game when using nerve gear. Once all the players are inside the game, it gets corrupted by the creator and everyone is trapped inside, not being able to log out, until the players beat the 100th floor. Did I forget to mention that if any person dies inside the game, they also die in real life. This anime also has the best intensely beautiful soundtrack I have ever heard, I even listen to it when I am not watching the anime.

I am currently watching the Magi series and am trying to widen my horizons to other animes, like Black Butler, Death Note, Tokyo Ghoul and Blue Exorcist. Please contact me through [email protected] if you need any other recommendations or just want to talk about anime.

The Impact Of Films by Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Friday, February 10th, 2017

In my past blogs, I often look at how film is changing due to new technologies and changing mediums. This week, I don’t want to talk about how film is changing, but how film changes the world. Despite what many think, it isn’t just documentaries that can open up people’s eyes on current issues that need to be talked about. Historically, there are many films that completely changed the world thanks to their stories, messages and legendary quality.

I recently reviewed a film called Never Again is Now which focuses on the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. It not only tells the story of horrible events taking place and their cause, but it also tells the story of Holocaust survivors. It connects the past and the present and shows how thinking that the Holocaust was one terrible event never to be repeated is far from the truth. The film focuses on current events in Europe, but that isn’t the only place it’s happening. It’s been happening in every corner in the world, including here in United States. No one can deny that there is a rise of racism that is very apparent in United States and it should not be allowed to continue. Anti-Semitism is a very strong example of how hatred is at an all time high around the globe.

This signs of hate are a massive issue that seem like no one can stop. But it is very easy to stop hatred of all types. If you see someone behaving in a racist or hateful way, stop them. Confront them. If you hear about an issue (as I learned about with anti-Semitism), don’t stay silent. Speak up. Social media has a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of people and, just a simple post on FaceBook or Twitter helps spread the word about hate. It may seem like just talking about anti-Semitism or racism as a whole won’t do anything, but it will.

In Never Again is Now, one of the most important points made is that politically, no one wants to confront the issue of anti-Semitism. Talking about specific people being racist seems politically incorrect and that makes it even worst. Simply talking about such big issues will do so much.

Like I said, films make huge impacts on society as a whole. A one hour and thirty minute film made me think of the world in a completely different way. I soon realized that I can help spread the word about what is going on around the world. I want to leave this blog with a message to you, the reader. Don’t just stay silent. People stayed silent during the Holocaust and other genocides. If people spoke up instead of staying silent, many horrible events could have been prevented, and hate as a whole might have made a much smaller and more mild impact, if at all. Don’t let history repeat itself. Let us be smart for once and actually learn from our mistakes. Let’s move on to a brighter tomorrow for the sake of our children and their future.

There Are More Colors Than Black and White By Willie Jones, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017


In the aftermath of two years straight of Academy Awards without black actor nominees, this year’s Oscars has plenty. For the first time in Oscar history, there is a black nominee in every acting category. 89 years later, and it’s finally happening. As a matter fact, there is also a black nominee in the directing category, adapted screenplay and producing. So most of the Big 8 categories (except original screenplay) has a black nominee. That’s a major feat. It certainly makes up, if you will, for the major snubs these last couple of years.

Beyond that, the impact of black cinema even extends into the documentary category. 13th, I Am Not Your Negro and O.J. Made in America are all films that deal, in some way, with the black experience. So even beyond the categories that casual fans really care about, there are black representatives. I mean this year, in general, seems to be destined to erase the unfortunate circumstances of the last two years’ award ceremonies. Just look at the releases – Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures and Loving. The uproar over a “White Oscars” this year would have been enormous. However, though I am proud of the Academy’s nomination diversity (having seen all of these films, I can say most of the nominated actors are deserving), I think it’s time we realized that diversity means more than just black and white.

In the 20th Century, all minorities were under-appreciated and under-represented by the Academy. In the 21st Century, the black cinematic community began getting their just due and, this year, they made history. However, what goes completely ignored is the Hispanic and Asian cinematic communities. Admittedly, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Alfonso Cuaron have won the last three Best Director Oscars. With all due respect, neither of them are Steven Spielberg or Tim Burton. They aren’t major directors in the mainstream yet. Their biggest films were led by DiCaprio, Bullock and Keaton. Whereas, the films led by Javier Bardem and Gael Garcia Bernal didn’t the attention their acclaim would have suggested.

It would be nice to see more Hispanic actors nominated multiple times besides Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Benicio Del Toro. Furthermore, I would love for mainstream audiences to know more Asian actors beyond Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Ken Jeong. Sure, Dev Patel is nominated this year. But let’s be honest, of Hispanics, Blacks and Asians, Asians get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

And the issues go back to what I said in the midst of the “Oscars So White” controversy. The Academy cannot nominate what they do not see. While movie buffs and critics may watch foreign films, it has been proven and confirmed that many Academy members don’t even watch the domestic films nominated for Academy Awards. Nominations for Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, Isabelle Huppert in Elle, and Javier Bardem in Biutiful are referred to as “inspired nominations” – nominations that weren’t expected or predicted, but reflect a passion the Academy has over a little seen performance that deserves attention. That’s what many foreign performances by Hispanics and Asians end up being. There was a time when nomination of a black actor was considered “inspired” (Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel) and now, it’s the norm. No, beyond that. Now it’s EXPECTED. Each year we expect white and black actors to be nominated, yet we don’t expect the same for Asian and Hispanic actors.

It goes back to exposure. The reason black actors started getting nominated more was because more films starring or featuring black people were being produced and entered into the mainstream. Now in 2017, we’re still low on the number of Asian and Hispanic actors that are well known and, even rarer, are good roles for them in mainstream films. Surely, we know about clichés such as Fresh Off the Boat and the Hispanic friend Michael Pena often plays. But where is the Manchester by the Sea for Benicio Del Toro? Where is Adriana Barraza’s Carol? Why can’t Choi Min-sik get the mainstream roles that he deserves? Diversity in Hollywood needs to go beyond black and white, and soon. The “inspired nomination” shouldn’t be primarily minorities. Sure we still have the likes of Laura Linney’s nomination for The Savages, but that type of nomination cannot continually be Asian and Hispanic performances, because those performances should be expected, not unusual.

Producers should realize that these actors have as much talent as the Goslings and Stones of the world. They should capitalize on these talents and understand that marketability can extend to Asians and Hispanics. The Academy simply cannot nominate what they don’t see and aren’t exposed to – plain and simple. Amores Perros and In the Mood for Love were lauded by critics and movie aficionados alike and yet, were still ignored by the Academy. So instead of pigeonholing non-White actors to films in their native tongue, let’s embrace them into our mainstream so that they get proper recognition and we can fulfill what the Academy Awards are for – honoring the best in cinema for the previous year. Last time I checked, cinema expands past the borders of America.

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