Right now there is a lot of controversy in our world about a lack of diversity. The Oscars Awards Show is being boycotted by actors and filmmakers because of a lack of diversity in its nominations. People are mad, and people are mad that people are mad. It’s always good to think through things without a lot of emotion so that there can be good conflict resolution. I believe it’s wise to always bring water to the fire not gasoline.
So after thinking about it, I don’t think anyone wants for the the members of the Academy to pick movies based on race or gender, but I do think people want the Academy to be more diverse in general so that it represents all those who are in the film industry. If the Academy is more diverse, then wouldn’t the nominations be more diverse?
I understand that particular frustration in Hollywood, because I was a young actress in Los Angeles years ago. I studied at a prominent acting academy, I worked on my craft and received excellent feedback; and yet as someone who was ethnically ambiguous I was cast for very few parts. The parts I did get were generally small parts as a housekeeper or an immigrant. Those of course are honorable roles but eventually I began to lose heart because I didn’t see anyone who looked like me doing what I felt I was put on the planet to do. Thankfully for years now many have persevered and now there are successful people of diverse backgrounds in the film industry.
However, during that time in California I eventually gave up acting and I became very purposeless and drifted in life even to the point of self-destructive behavior. Thankfully years later I am back on track by the grace of God alone and I’ve discovered my deeper purpose and calling in life. However, I have never forgotten how important it is to see people who look like you doing what you feel you are made for, it gives you vision.
When thinking about diversity, it’s clear it only strengthens things. I remember watching a documentary once on the making of the movie Gladiator, one of my favorite films. During pre-production the writers had failed to produce the final script. They were getting ready to start production and they couldn’t figure out the motive for why Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, kills Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
The group of writers consisted of all men except for one woman. The woman writer went away for a week while the others were still working on the script. While she was gone they decided to have Commodus kill off Maximus’ love interest Lucilla, played by Connie Nelson, so that Maximus would have the motive of revenge.
They told the woman writer when she returned about their decision, and she was horrified. They had already killed Maximus’ first wife and now they were about to kill off the only other woman in the film. She convinced them that this was a really bad idea. They listened to her and finally arrived at the idea that Maximus’ motive was not vengeance, but a desire be with his family in the afterlife. The movie came out and was a major success, it won critical acclaim, a ton of awards and is loved by people everywhere, particularly women. Diversity only makes a project fuller and richer.
In Ireland in the eighteen hundreds the peasants were oppressed and forced to survive on one potato crop. Tragically, however, that crop failed. During the Irish Potato Famine one million people died and two million people immigrated. One of the first things I learned in gardening is to plant a diversity of crops, because they are stronger together, and more resistant to attack from disease and predators. Then if one crop fails, you still have an abundance of food.
Scientists will tell you that a healthy ecosystem consists of a diversity of life forms. The more varied the number of species of genes, microorganisms, plants, the more health and sustainability the ecosystem possess.
In investing stocks it is so important to diversify. If you place all your financial eggs in one basket then you risk a major loss. However, if you diversify your funds, when one does poorly you still have plenty that do well.
Organizations today that are advancing have discovered that they need to reach the younger generation to have success and longevity. However, think if the Academy or leading organizations began to intentionally reach each generation, women and those from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds? How healthy and strong would they become?
I truly believe when our organizations and teams begin to diversify from the top to the bottom our strengths, gifts and talents will come together to synergize and multiply. We are always better together and when we are unified the possibilities are limitless.
Pic by Lumina