27 Jun 2018

Grammy and Oscars push for diversity at awards

10:19 am on 27 June 2018

The Grammy Awards are expanding the number of nominees in the top categories in music from five to eight in the biggest push to increase diversity in the 60-year history of the awards.

The trophy of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2007.

Photo: AFP

The changes, announced yesterday by the Recording Academy which organises the annual event, will take effect for the 2019 Grammy Awards and follow an uproar earlier this year over the low numbers of female nominees, winners and performers on the televised ceremony.

New Zealand singer Lorde also highlighted the Grammys' lack of recognition for female artists in a full-page newspaper advertisement earlier this year.

The pop star had already been dragged into the debate over female representation at the Grammys when it emerged she was the only album of the year nominee who was not invited to give a solo performance.

Lorde and brother, Angelo Yelich-O'Connor, attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden.

Lorde and brother, Angelo Yelich-O'Connor, attend the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden. Photo: AFP

The expansion means that the top prizes - for best record, album and song of the year, as well as best new artist - will have eight artists competing. Five artists have been nominated since the Grammys were first awarded in 1959.

Other categories will remain at five nominees

"This creates more opportunities for a wider-range of recognition in these important categories and gives more flexibility to our voters when having to make the often challenging decisions about representing excellence and the best in music for the year," Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in a statement.

At the 2018 Grammys in January, where Bruno Mars swept the board with six wins for his pop album "24K Magic," Mr Portnow was criticised for saying that female musicians needed to "step up" if they wanted greater recognition.

The Recording Academy set up a task force to increase diversity and Mr Portnow later said he would be stepping down from his post next year.

The expansion of nominees for the Grammys follows a similar decision by the Academy of Motion Pictures in 2009 to increase from five to 10 the number of best picture nods for the annual Oscars.

Although only one winner is named, nominations and wins for Grammys and Oscars typically lead to a big bump in record sales and box office takings for the artists and movies that are celebrated.

Nominations for the 2019 Grammys will be announced in the fall and the televised awards show from Los Angeles is expected to take place in February.

Oscars broaden invites after critical movements

The group behind the prestigious Oscars film awards has invited 928 artists and executives to join the Academy Awards body - almost half of whom are women.

Of those invited by the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, just over a third are from minorities.

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

Actress Jada Pinkett Smith. Photo: AFP

The move is part of a plan to double the number of women and ethnic minorities in the Academy by 2020.

The recent #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo movements criticised the body for its overwhelmingly white male membership.

Among those invited to join the Academy as part of its push to become more diverse are female cinematographers from Mexico and France.

Other women stars on the list include US actors Jada Pinkett Smith, Amy Schumer, Ann Dowd and Christine Baranski, and the comedians Tiffany Haddish and Sarah Silverman.

Listed notable male stars include African-American comedian Dave Chappelle, actor Daniel Kaluuya, who was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in Get Out, and French-American actor Timothée Chalamet, who starred in the film Call Me By Your Name.

If all 928 of the Academy's invitations are accepted, female membership will rise to 31 percent from 28 percent, while ethnic minority members will increase to 16 percent from 13 percent, according to the academy.

It would also raise the number of voting participants for the Oscars film awards to a new high of about 9300 people, the New York Times reports.

Hollywood's awards seasons have been marked by controversy with the #MeToo campaign, which exposed and raised awareness of sexual harassment, and the #OscarsSoWhite movement.

In 2016, actors including Marvel star Chadwick Boseman said they were inspired to join the Academy because of the strength of the #OscarsSoWhite diversity campaign, which began with a tweet by activist film producer Rita Wilson.

"I felt obligated to join," said Mr Boseman, who played superhero Black Panther in the Marvel films.

Ms Wilson said at the time that it was right to join because the Academy was now "open to hearing what the issues were".

- Reuters / BBC