2021 Oscars Displayed Diversity Improvement

2021 Oscars Displayed Diversity Improvement

Over the many years the Oscars have been celebrated, it has become increasingly obvious that they have a diversity problem. It has been well documented, campaigned against, and has even become the butt of many jokes (here’s looking at you Chris Rock). But for 2021, they have turned over a new leaf, with the Best Actor category being easily the most diverse selection of actors ever.

The History of Hollywood’s Diversity Problem

The problem with diversity in Hollywood has been deep seated for the entirety of Hollywood’s existence. Whilst the Academy has been working to rectify this glaring problem, they’re not there yet. Studies into the diversity levels of previous Academy Award shows reflect the under-representation of minority groups since 2013.

oscars diversity chart
Image credit: Financial Times

The 2015 Oscars caused uproar among their audience as it marked the second Academy Award ceremony in a row to be completely devoid if minority actors. All four acting categories consisted of only white actors. However, this did not cause a sudden change in the ratio of minority to white actors. It took 5 years (until 2018) for the the nominee list to match the diversity level it had shown in 2013.

Insider produced a study in which they carefully examined the Oscar nominee lists from 2011-2021 and found that a total of 89% of all nominees over this time period had been white, with 71.1% of them being men. Which also touches upon the issue of not only cultural diversity, but gender diversity as well.

The 2021 Oscar Winners

The lineup this year was far more encouraging however, with people of various races and genders winning awards throughout the ceremony:

  • Daniel Kaluuya won Best actor in a supporting role
  • Chloé Zhao won Best director
  • Youn Yuh-Jung won Best actress in a supporting role
  • H.E.R won Best original song for her song “Fight For You

Not only that, but multiple movies starring minority cast members also won awards:

  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom won Best makeup and hairstyling & Best costume design.
  • Two Distant Strangers won Best live-action short film
  • Soul won Best animated feature film & Best original score
  • Colette won Best documentary short
  • Tenet won Best visual effects

The presenters for the 2021 Oscars were also far more representative, with 43% of the 16 chosen presenters being either; Black, Jewish, Korean, or mixed-race.

oscar diversity
Image credit: Felemundo

It is especially reassuring to see that several of the movies winning Oscars that night were creates to tell the stories of minority people. Not only that, but “Two Distant Stranger” speaks of the difficulties currently being experienced in America in regards to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and police brutality. Important messages are being highlighted with the Oscars shinning a spotlight on the movies that highlight these messages.

They have not only gone out of their way to become more culturally diverse, but they have thrust these people and issues into the limelight. We also have a lineup of much more diverse movies coming to theaters in the coming years. So let us hope that this is the start of a new inclusive era of Hollywood.



Eloise is a lifelong gamer, a studier of Ancient History and Archaeology, a pet care journalist, a new mother of one, and film studies graduate with a desire to pass on her own knowledge so that others may benefit from it.

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