In an email with April Reign, the mastermind behind #OscarsSoWhite details her reasons for starting the hashtag, and her hopes of a more diverse and inclusive Hollywood.
Yesterday, when the Oscar nominations were released, the Black community was rightfully outraged because absolutely *no* Black actors, directors, or creatives were mentioned. Sure, Common and John Legend snagged a nomination for “Glory,” but otherwise, the Oscars solely validated white artistry.
Which prompted April Reign to start the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Her first tweet snowballed into a social media firestorm; with tens of thousands of tweets pouring in by the second, #OscarsSoWhite was trending for days.
Media outlets will continue to compile articles with the most popular #OscarSoWhite tweets in the interest of rapidity, but I believe that uplifting the Black women behind the hashtag is more vital and valuable to the conversation. Just like #BlackLivesMatter, a Black women gave rise to a social media meme that could potentially lead to heartened dialogue about racial equity for non-white communities.
April Reign is a former attorney. Practicing in both the public and private sectors for over 20 years, April left behind her legal career to pursue more creative employment. Currently a content creator, brand ambassador, and overall digital media guru, April is assertively placing herself in the “intersection of race, politics, and pop culture.” The popularity of #OscarsSoWhite is a standing emblem of her intersectional interests.
Although “hashtivism,” receives some backlash over the lack of prolonged empathy, it’s clear that Twitter is a major platform for transcending online sentiment to tangible political ideology and grassroots movement building. #BlackLivesMatter is a clear example of this. And perhaps #OscarsSoWhite can be too. On the imminent power of the power of the hashtag, April says:
I hope the hashtag brings awareness to the lack of diversity in film and makes both the viewing public and, importantly, studio executives and Oscar voters, take note of the fact that, in 2015, this should not even be a discussion. Hollywood must tell the stories of everyone, not just of those who look like the people in the boardrooms greenlighting films.
To change the institutional dynamic of the Oscars will certainly take more than a hashtag. But given the insurmountable coverage and outrage the Oscars’ lack of diversity is receiving, it’s more than possible that *something* will change within the inexplicably outdated voting process. And the change to come, is wholly attributed to the labor of a Black woman—April Reign.