After last year’s nominations spawned the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, all eyes were on the Academy Award nominations on Jan. 24.
Dev Patel was nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) for his performance in the film “Lion” — becoming just the third actor of Indian descent ever nominated for an Oscar — and only the 13th Asian actor to receive a nod.
Patel, 26, who was born in Kenya and raised in London, is the first Indian acting nominee in 13 years, since Ben Kingsley was nominated in 2004 for House of Sand and Fog.
This year (along with 2007), a record-tying seven minority actors were recognized, including a record-setting six Black actors. But where were the Asians, who Hollywood is more than eager to woo, most notably for China’s expansive box office and investment dollars? In addition, for the eighth year in a row, no women were nominated for Best Director.
As of one year ago, the top six Hollywood studios counted just two Blacks and five Asian Americans among a combined 60 top executives, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And there is still a perception in the industry that movies helmed by or featuring people of color won’t succeed at the box office, despite evidence to the contrary.
It’s possible we are not seeing many nominations for Asian actors because they are not getting the types of roles that would generate those nominations.
And it’s hard to get those types of big juicy roles if you don’t have a track record in the industry with smaller, juicy roles. It seems Hollywood is not willing to cast Asian actors in those smaller roles, so no pipeline is developed.
Daniel Mayeda, chairman of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, applauded the increased number of Black actors in the nominations list this year.
But he also said that Patel being the only Asian actor included reflects “the continued lack of real opportunities for Asians in Hollywood.”
Mayeda added, “Now, we just have to make sure that Hispanics, Asians, Muslims, LGBT, and others also are represented in the future.”