#OscarSoWhite Launches New Database To Help People Of Color Find Jobs In Media And Hollywood

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Written by Dana Sanchez

 

#OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign has launched Akuarel, a new database that has been in development for two years, to help people of color and marginalized communities find work in media and creative industries.

It’s a move that could help disrupt traditional talent agencies and their executives who helped contribute to inequality in Hollywood.

Reign spearheaded what became the #OscarsSoWhite movement when she called out the Academy Awards in April 2015 for inequality over its unwillingness to nominate minorities and people of color.

The hashtag gained momentum in 2016, when the Oscars failed to nominate any people of color in the acting categories.

In 2016, no Black people were nominated in any of the major categories at the Academy Awards.

Reign is credited with changing the conversation about which films and individuals the Academy tends to honor, prompting much-needed changes at the 2017 and 2018 awards ceremonies.

The Oscars are still predominantly white and male.

April Reign
April Reign: reignofapril.com

In the interest of more inclusive hiring, Reign developed Akuarel. It is also designed to help filmmakers find diverse talent.

“This answers one of the issues raised by #OscarsSoWhite of studios saying, ‘We want to work with people from marginalized communities, but we just don’t know where to find them,’” Reign said. “(Akuarel) is going to drop them right in their lap.”

The Akuarel database was developed in partnership with the Motion Picture Association of America. The site is built and hosted by the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association (MMCA).

Akuarel will be free for users, IndieWire reported. Studios nd industry executives will pay a subscription to access the user database, “which allows them to search for applicants … rather than relying solely on traditional talent agencies.”

“Our main objective now is to get Akuarel populated by the talent and the stakeholders themselves,” said David Morgan with the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. “The value to the studios will be once it’s sufficiently populated. A lot of the studios were already partnering with us on sponsorship arrangements.”

Several whitewashing controversies have erupted in recent years. Guy Ritchie’s live-action “Aladdin” remake of the upcoming Disney film is a recent one. Ritchie said he couldn’t find a male 20-something actor of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent to play Aladdin. He cast Naomi Scott — who is of British and Indian descent — as the  Jasmine and there have been reports that Disney darkened white extras’ skin instead of hiring actors of color, according to a blog at WomenAndHollywood.com.

“There are a billion Asian people in the world, but we can’t find our Princess Jasmine?” Reign said. “To me that’s nonsense.”

Productions including “Ghost in the Shell” and “Doctor Strange” have been criticized for featuring white actors as characters originally intended to be other ethnicities, according to IndieWire.