Africa We Want

EQUALITY: Oscars, Black Hollywood’s long climb continues

Who will leave the Academy Awards ceremony with a statuette? Bigger questions for commentator Ken Makin: Who got passed over for nominations? And what does that continue to say about the film industry’s recognition of cultural clout? By Clayton Collins Director, editorial innovation

Ken Makin, a Monitor correspondent and commentator, also produces his “Makin a Difference” podcast from a home studio. He joined the Monitor’s “Why We Wrote This” podcast to talk about this year’s Academy

You might think of the Academy Awards as being just an arcane industry game, the main outcomes of which are a pop of prestige and fuel for more box office earnings.

To commentator Ken Makin, they’re about much more.

“Award shows basically are proximity to power, to financial power, to earning potential,” Ken says on the Monitor’s “Why We Wrote This” podcast. He celebrates superstar Angela Bassett’s best supporting actress nomination (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”). But he sees a lost opportunity for more and better Black roles when a rising actor like Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”) is passed over, even for nomination, as happened this year.

In this episode, an updated encore of one he recorded in December, Ken says he’s disappointed that another powerful performance will go unnominated on the night of March 12: that of his fellow South Carolinian Viola Davis (“The Woman King”), who won her first Oscar back in 2016 (for “Fences”).

“Black people, we dictate the culture in so many ways,” Ken says, “particularly as it relates to entertainment. And that influence is undeniable.” His frustration: That influence is not yet getting, in his view, proportionate recognition from the institutions that hold power. Still, it’s the undeniable influence that also provides him some solace, and a sense that gains will keep coming.

“I remain hopeful,” Ken says.

Author: MANZI


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