This year's Oscars award show was filled with excitement — especially for those who have been calling for more diversity and the inclusion of marginalized communities within Hollywood films.
Actress Viola Davis won best supporting actress for her role in "Hidden Figures"; Mahershala Ali won best supporting actor for "Moonlight"; and the latter film, a coming-of-age story of an African-American man, took home the best picture statue (after a brief mix-up).
Maryland resident April Reign, the creator of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, declared it a "wonderful night for ‘Moonlight,'" while calling the best picture flub — "La La Land" was initially incorrectly announced as the winner — a disappointing "snafu."
Still, she said there’s more work to be done when it comes to Hollywood films.
"I think anyone that saw all nine films that were nominated could see how ['Moonlight'] could garner a nomination and a win," Reign said on a phone call with The Baltimore Sun on Tuesday. "While this was a good night with respect to films that reflect the black experience, this was definitely not a diverse experience. Because other than the black people that were nominated, both in front of and behind the camera, the only other actor or actress that was nominated was Dev Patel [of "Lion], and the very few other people of color. You can probably name them all on one hand."
The Howard County resident said #OscarsSoWhite, which she started in January 2015 in criticism of lack of diversity of Academy Awards nominees, will remain relevant. The campaign will continue to focus on the inclusion of all marginalized communities in film, which along with people of color, includes “sexual orientation and gender, the differently-abled and first nation folks," Reign said.
As far as the next steps Hollywood should take to make its audiences feel included, Reign said the answer should be obvious.
“The onus is on Hollywood to ensure that the stories of marginalized communities are told. They should be actively seeking filmmakers, not just actors and actresses ... [but] seeking filmmakers from the screenwriters stage all the way through distribution who can tell these stories," she said. "These stories that we see from Hollywood should reflect the community who spends the hard-earned dollars to go see the films."
And its not just about Oscars season, Reign added.
“You and I and our friends and colleagues should all be able to see nuanced, textured stories that reflect our experience, not just during the award nomination season, but all year long.”