We are now one day away from the 91st Annual Academy Awards. We’re one day away, and already leading up to it, so much has been going on. It had a host, and then it didn’t have a host (though, in my not so humble opinion, I don’t think it’s a huge loss, for most of the hosts in recent years have been very unfunny). Four of the categories were set to be aired, and then they were only going to be done during the commercial breaks, but there was enough of an uproar to leave it on the air. The Oscars this year are… somewhat less White than previous years, and the woman who created the campaign that I’m referring to, April Reign, will be attending the ceremony for her first time.
It’s set to be an interesting ceremony, to say the least, but even before all of the preceding craziness even occurred, I already knew that going into viewing this year’s ceremony would be from an altered point of view than in the past. Last year’s viewing experience was slightly different, for it was three days before I interviewed the family of an Academy Award nominee. But the thing was that during last year’s ceremony, I was not a screenwriter yet. Now I am.
The screenwriting categories – Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay – would always strike my attention as soon as they came on. I would think about what must be going through the nominees’ heads as their names and works are being announced. How would they recap their experience of writing the script that they are being privileged of being recognized for by the Academy? What trials and tribulations did they have to go through to wind up in the positions they are in?
Ever since I started watching the Academy Awards as a teenager, these are questions that would pop into my head as these particular Oscars were given out. That and I would constantly wonder if I would ever have what it takes to find myself in such a position one day.
Well, that day is certainly not tomorrow, but I’ve already taken the first steps towards being potentially qualified someday. I’ve written a feature-length screenplay, and within the past month and a half, I have submitted it to my very first film festival and to a writing fellowship (with the plans to look into more places I can apply to next). I now have a better understanding for the endurance and patience that is required to write a screenplay (although I have yet to do an original one one day), but I’m still early enough in my journey where I’ve yet to experience the lot that the screenwriting nominees of the past and present have been through.
I also think of how my odds are still against me, diversity-speaking. The nominees of this year’s screenwriting awards speak for itself. A majority of the nominees are men and are White. Only a few people of color are nominated and the two women who are nominated share writing credits with a man.
There’s also the variety in which screenplays are nominated that are a strong indicator of the rut the majority of the Academy are mentally still in. Most of the screenplays are biopics and historical dramas. My writing is surely becoming genre-specific (“An Absolute Mind” is a fine example of such). Honestly, the fact that “Black Panther,” a sci-fi superhero movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is nominated for Best Picture is a damn miracle!
But then again, this is exactly why April Reign started the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, so writers like myself can actually have a chance at being nominated one day. Obviously, that progress, while occurring, is moving at a snail’s pace. It’s going to require the efforts of many to speed that progress up a little. I hope to be a contributor to that progress with the work that I’m creating.
In all fairness, it’s not about the awards, for even if I never get nominated in my lifetime, I don’t think that will be a huge loss for me. It’s all about recognizing the hard work and talents beyond the White men that have made up this industry for too long. It’s about completely breaking the glass ceiling that is currently chipping away.
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Also, if you can please take a few seconds and vote for whether or not I should make A Moment’s Worth available as a paperback for its fifth anniversary this summer, that would be a huge help.