The 2023 Golden Globe Awards and Emmys saw historic wins, with Trevor Noah becoming the first Black person to win Outstanding Talk Series and Ali Wong becoming the first Asian woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. As the echoes of the Golden Globe Awards and Emmys fade away, anticipation now builds as the spotlight turns to the upcoming Oscars and Grammys. Awards season is in full swing, and as always, there is plenty of discussion and debate surrounding it. From poor jokes, to new strides for various communities, to physical violence, the last few years in the realm of awards shows have seen plenty.
A big discussion that has risen in the last decade regarding many of these shows is the lack of diversity and representation. Michelle Yeoh was the first Asian woman to win in the Best Actress category at the 2023 Oscars. 14 years ago, Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker.” Two more women have won that award since then, one of them being a woman of color, Chloé Zhao.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Hispanic and Latino nominees account for 1.7 percent of all nominees and 2 percent of all winners from 1929 to 2023. Black nominees represent 1.9 percent of all nominees and 2 percent of all winners across 253 nominations and 57 winners.
While the entertainment industry continues to see improvements with diversity, awards shows have been a bit slower to see increased inclusivity, and have significant progress to make. In September 2020, the Academy Awards introduced a new set of rules that would go into effect in March 2024 in an effort to encourage more diversity and inclusion. These new rules outline that a film must meet two out of four criteria in order to qualify for Best Picture. The criteria went from requiring at least 30 percent of the cast to be from at least two underrepresented groups, to requiring multiple senior executives from underrepresented groups on its marketing, distribution or publicity teams.
This new criteria received much backlash across Hollywood. These new standards may seem to be strict and limiting, but there are many ways that these rules can be satisfied, diversity can be increased on productions, and storylines do not have to shift too much. These rules create many new opportunities that were difficult to attain for underrepresented communities.
Now, because the Academy Awards has introduced these rules, questions have been raised. What is the story for other awards shows? Are any of these new measures performative rather than helpful?
The Grammys take place on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, and their nominee list appears to include a diverse variety of artists. A new Grammy award, Best African Music Performance, has been added this year. A broader, more inclusive range of artists have been nominated in comparison to prior years. However, while that is a cause for celebration, the Grammys have a history of awarding white artists. Whether this year will challenge that precedent remains to be seen.
So far, awards shows seem to be diversifying their events, but whether that is merely a performative action or a true effort to create well-rounded, inclusive award shows is yet to be determined.