When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominations in January, the absence of any minority group nominees in the acting categories -- for only the second time since 1998 -- triggered a backlash of criticism and threats of protest.
But Sunday’s Academy Awards show boasted the most diverse group of performers and presenters in Oscar history, as 15 minority presenters, including Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Lopez, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, Kevin Hart and Oprah Winfrey, took the stage to deliver the evening’s awards.
It wasn’t by accident.
In the 2012 telecast, there was just one black presenter – Chris Rock. When producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron took over the show the following year, they made it a priority to have the Oscars show reflect the nation’s diversity. There were eight presenters of color in 2013, and 12 last year.
“We’ve always been very conscious of diversity in terms of our presenters and our performers,” Meron said backstage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood in the days leading up to the show. “We feel that’s the way the world exists. We’ve always been believers in having an Oscar show that reflects the way the world exists.”
Sources: Los Angeles Times photography, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences