Film Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has responded to the criticism that followed Thursday's Oscar nominations featuring no people of color in any acting category, making for the least racially diverse Oscars in 17 years. There were also no women nominated in the directing or writing categories.
Boone Isaacs, the first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, insists the academy is "committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion" and that outreach to women and artists of color is a major focus.
"In the last two years, we've made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members," Boone Isaacs said. "And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories."
A 2012 survey by the Los Angeles Times found the academy was 94 percent white, overwhelmingly male and with a median age of 62. A more recent survey determined the percentage of older white males had dropped by one point, the Times said. But with nearly 7,000 members and no requirement to retire, diversity is going to take some time.
With all the accolades the civil rights drama "Selma" has received since its Christmas opening, some felt its failure to garner nominations for director Ava DuVernay or star David Oyelowo reflected a racial bias.
"What is important not to lose sight of is that 'Selma,' which is a fantastic motion picture, was nominated for best picture this year, and the best picture category is voted on by the entire membership of around 7,000 people," Boone Isaacs said.
Besides best picture, the film received just one additional nod -- for original song -- in what was widely viewed as a significant snub. But fans shouldn't feel that way, she said: "It's nominated for the Oscar for best picture. It's an award that showcases the talent of everyone involved in the production of the movie 'Selma.'"
Boone Isaacs says the five best actor nominees -- Bradley Cooper ("American Sniper"), Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything") and Michael Keaton ("Birdman") -- "are all at the top of their game." Click here for the full Oscar Nominees
"There are quite a few actors this year at the top of their game," she said. "There are five nominees and this year, these were the five."