Why are we still talking about the lack of diversity in film in 2016?

Academy voters in 2013 could not ignore 12 Years A Slave but the glaring lack of diversity the following year attracted criticism. Credit: Reuters

I am sadly reminded of an article that I wrote last year on the issue of race while covering the Oscars in LA. Another year then, same issue.

The year before 2013, it was all about 12 Years A Slave, a film with race slap bang at its core, an epic which Academy voters could not ignore. And they didn't, a black filmmaker, Britain's Steve McQueen rightly recognised.

It was a turning point surely, said many in the industry who had voiced their concerns on the glaring lack of diversity.

But the next year I was back in LA and it was all about a film shockingly overlooked in many of the main categories, Selma, which everyone wanted to talk about.

For me it was simply one of the best films of the year, deeply moving, brilliantly acted, and important.

I attended a networking event for black filmmakers in Hollywood who meet to support each other, and to say there was deep concern would be an understatement.

David Oyelowo, the star who so brilliantly played Martin Luther was gracious talking about his glaring omission in the best actor category, but his fellow actors and directors did not pull their punches.

Nina Nannah speaking to actor David Oyelowo last year. Credit: ITV News

"They got it wrong, something went wrong" was what the director and actor Bill Dukes told me.

He has made documentaries on the issue of race and skin colour today, broadcast on Oprah Winfrey's channel (he asked me to be in one of these and I happily contributed last year).

Yes, he said, the Academy voters are overwhelmingly white and male, but the issue goes right back to the studios that commission and pay for new films.

If they are not green-lighting films which rightly reflect diversity today, the Academy voters can't nominate them.

This was an opinion echoed by many of those present - it's not just an Academy problem - it's an industry-wide problem.

And it's not unique to film. Idris Elba's words to MPs yesterday are testament to that.

2016 - and here we still here talking about the lack of diversity in film and television. How depressing.

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