Inclusion, the noun, is defined as “the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure,” and this is the word that most creative people of color are using to describe the continued issue they face within the inner circles of Hollywood. That is the lack thereof and therefore the understanding of the word and the need for inclusion.
“It’s more about inclusion than diversity,” stated award-winning producer Effie T. Brown (“Dear White People” and the upcoming “Flyy Girl”). “That’s what I explained to the creative team at HBO when they hired me for the rebooted ‘Project Green Light,’ and my film crew reflected that word, which was a stark contrast to the people who were the decision makers at the network.”
That word was also what Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, shared with me in the early 1990s, when she was head of publicity at Paramount Pictures. It was because of her passion for training young people and demonstrating inclusion that I became a unit publicist.
This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended their invitations to join the organization to 322 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2015.
“It’s gratifying to acknowledge the extraordinary range of talent in our industry,” said Isaacs. “This year, our branches have recognized a more diverse and inclusive list of filmmakers and artists than ever before, and we look forward to adding their creativity, ideas and experience to our organization.”
I’m happy to share that some of the 322 include Choi Min-sik (“Lucy,” “Oldboy”), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (“Beyond the Lights,” “Belle”), David Oyelowo (“Selma,” “A Most Violent Year”), Dev Patel (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Slumdog Millionaire”), Song Kang-ho (“Snowpiercer,” “The Host”), Aisha Coley (“Selma,” “Beyond the Lights”) and Mary Hidalgo (“The Lego Movie,” “The Incredibles”) as well as producers Caroline Baron (“Capote,” “Monsoon Wedding”), Effie T. Brown (“Dear White People,” “Real Women Have Curves”), Terence Chang (“Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” “Face/Off”)
Jeremy Kleiner (“Selma,” “12 Years a Slave”) and Dan Lin (“The Lego Movie,” “Sherlock Holmes”).
“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Isaacs said. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”
Isaacs and the Academy are keeping their promise. Hello, “Hollywood Green-lighters,” please pay attention. Inclusion is good for the bottom line, and frankly it’s good for every line in between.