Former Academy President Hawk Koch Issues Diversity Challenge In Wake Of All White Oscars

Former AMPAS president Hawk Koch has joined the chorus of voices seeking ways to remedy the exclusion of black nominees in the past two Academy Awards. Here is his open letter:

A Letter to the Entertainment Industry

I am a former President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and
volunteer on several committees, although I am no longer on the Board of
Governors and have no governing powers. After working for more than 50 years
in the entertainment business, I have an abiding passion for the work we do. This
personal letter arises out of that passion.

Lately I – along with many others – have been thinking long and hard about the
dearth of diversity within our industry. I say “our industry” because I don’t believe
this is just an Academy problem rather it’s an industry-wide problem and up until
now we have not done a very good job. And while I also don’t believe this
problem can be solved quickly, I know that it can and should be solved…with
effort by every single one of us but, it must be addressed immediately.
One such effort is the suggestion of an Oscar boycott. While such an idea shines
a necessary light on the issue, now more than ever we have the responsibility to
actively work together to fix the problem with concrete steps. “How do we do

I know that many programs already exist but, clearly our industry needs to do
more to find and develop talent in all the crafts. We must work with the Unions
and the Guilds as well as schools across the country to identify and cultivate the
talent of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, women, LGBTs, the disabled and
all under represented groups. And then we have to allow them access to every
single aspect of filmmaking.

We are an industry of creative people, people! We should be able to use the
very thing Idris Elba mentioned in his powerful speech to the British Parliament –
our imagination. He also mentioned that the world is full of talented people whose
only problem – and it’s a big one – is lack of opportunity.

I want to personally challenge each and every branch of our industry –
production, designers, cinematographers, sound mixers, editors, composers,
makeup artists, hair stylists, casting directors, publicists, attorneys, agents,
managers, animators, visual effects, writers, directors, producers, executives – to
form committees whose sole purpose would be to imagine and create programs
to extend opportunities to those without it.

To you, the individual reading this letter, can you imagine a way to extend a hand
or create an opportunity in your particular area of expertise to someone who
might not otherwise have access? And if you can, are you willing to take the next
step by participating in making our industry wider, broader, more colorful and far
more inclusive than it is today…what it should be!

After all my years in the industry, I know the quality of its’ members and I trust
that you will.

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