The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded after reports surfaced that the black cast members of the hit NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton did not receive invitations to the upcoming Academy Awards.
Vulture reported Thursday that the only people representing Compton at the awards would be the film’s four white screenwriters — Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus — who were nominated for Best Original Screenplay. The report added fuel to a media firestorm over the lack of diversity among the acting nominees at this year’s ceremony, memorialized in the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the Academy sought to deflect the renewed criticism, telling People magazine that the organization is not involved in sending out invitations to the awards show.
“The Academy invited the nominees only, and each studio gets a limited ticket allotment, based on the number of nominated films, to use at their discretion,” the spokesperson said. “It has been this way for decades.”
The outlet notes that Universal Pictures received four nominations at this year’s Oscars — one for Compton, one for Fifty Shades of Grey and two for Steve Jobs — and an additional four nominations for The Danish Girl, distributed by Universal subsidiary Focus Features. It would therefore be the studio’s responsibility to invite the cast of Compton, though producer Ice Cube recently told TMZ that he would not attend even if he received an invitation.
Last week, the Academy announced dramatic changes to its voting rules and organizational structure in an effort to defuse the diversity controversy, however many longtime members view the rule changes as an overt attempt to purge the Academy’s older, white members of their voting rights in favor of aggressively recruiting women and minority members.
On Wednesday, President Obama weighed in on the controversy, saying in an interview that the film industry “should do what every other industry should do, which is to look for talent, and provide opportunity to everybody.”
During a recent campaign stop in Iowa, Democrat presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton praised the Academy’s rules overhaul, calling the move “overdue.”
The 88th Academy Awards will air Sunday, February 28 on ABC.