Photo by Debra Lopez
2 hrs · My Oscar Opinion
In late July 1989 I moved from NY to Los Angeles to become a Head of The Urban Entertainment Department at The William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills. Then WMA and now WME was and remains one of the top three talent agencies in the entertainment industry. A few days into my tenure there I asked my assistant , "How Many Black executives were in the companies west coast office? The answer was one! That would be me. (There was also one in the New York office and I was responsible for the hiring of two more during my two year tenure). I have long left the company but I called over there the other day with pretty much the same question. The answer almost 27 years later is still one. Other top level talent agencies have a similar lack of Black talent representatives even though they make much revenue from Black talents especially on the music side of things.
To me this void and that of Blacks in decision making studio positions is a bigger issue than lack of actors gaining Oscar nominations. In close to 40 years of being in and around the entertainment and media industries I have held a view that we Blacks would greatly benefit by getting into places where we historically were not. Clearly some of these places are talent agent positions, studio production and acquisition positions, high level corporate accounting/ CFO positions.
The #oscarsowhite campaign has brought much attention to the lack of Black acting nominees. There have been calls to boycott tonight's show and a quick change in the voting roster of The Academy. I for one feel those actions are short sighted if we do not push to get in the room where the deals are actually made. I for one feel that some of our bigger Hollywood personalities should push their agencies and the studios they are involved with to bring forth some young Black behind the scenes talent and allow them to be track for inclusion in the deal making rooms. If we don't get in those rooms we will have another 27 some odd years and still have the same putrid answer.
Last I am going to watch The Oscars for at least a bit tonight. Lost in the tension is the fact that Reggie Hudlin a Black man is one of the producers of this years show. I have known both Chris Rock and Reggie Hudlin for about 30 years and I want them to win. Why?
Because Reggie is bright conscious Black man who as producer is in a decision making position as to many of the behind the scenes hires. I can assure you that's the least some Blacks have been put on in behind the scenes production related positions because Reggie is the producer of the show.
Those persons will be able to buy their kids clothes, food, books or pay their
rent, mortgage or car note with money they make tonight. To me the ability to have more Blacks eating because they are getting regular work behind the scenes is more important than soothing the ego of some star or starlet with a nomination.
April Yvette Thompson