Dem lawmakers press Academy over all-white Oscars
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A pair of Democratic lawmakers is penning a letter to the head of the Motion Picture Academy, expressing their “disappointment” about the lack of minority Oscar nominees.

In a Wednesday letter to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs obtained by ITK, Reps. John ConyersJohn James ConyersWoman accuses New York state senator of sexual misconduct Dissatisfaction with position of women in US hits new high Republicans on the run: Retirements could be trouble for Trump and party MORE (D-Mich.) and Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonMilitary equipment for police should require military-style oversight House votes on US involvement in Yemen Lawmaker apologizes for comparing Israeli settlers to termites MORE (D-Ga.) write, “We share in your disappointment that for the second year running, there are no African American nominees in any major category.”

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No black actors are up for awards in the four acting Oscars categories for the second year in a row, prompting a boycott of the Feb. 28 ceremony by a slew of celebrities, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and director Michael Moore. Rep. Danny DavisDaniel (Danny) K. DavisWoman sets herself on fire in Chicago lawmaker's office Dem lawmakers press Academy over all-white Oscars Black lawmaker calls for Oscar boycott MORE (D-Ill.) was the first lawmaker to come out in support of a boycott in an interview with The Hill.

“The recent announcement that some of Hollywood’s biggest stars will boycott the 2016 Academy Awards tells us that the time to confront this issue is now,” Conyers and Johnson, both members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Judiciary Committee, write in their message to Boone Isaacs.

Calling African Americans “one of the largest movie going audiences,” the congressmen write, “We therefore believe a continuing failure to recognize such an important segment of the population by the industry in general and the Academy in particular may have a negative effect on competition and diversity in this critical market place.”

Boone Isaacs said in a statement last month that she’s calling for “big changes” in the makeup of the Academy’s voting membership and that she was “heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion” among the nominees.

Saying the announced plan is a “first step toward a broader plan to increase diversity in Hollywood as a whole,” Conyers and Johnson contend, “we hope to ensure that this is not a false step.”

In their letter, the two lawmakers invite Boone Isaacs to Capitol Hill to meet with them, saying, “We believe Hollywood should be on the leading edge of inclusion, and the Academy, by recognizing excellence from all viewpoints, can help achieve that goal.”

—Haley Britzky contributed