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African American Oscars preview
2013 marked an unprecedented year for black films with movies like "The Butler" and "12 Years a Slave" scoring big at the box office.
But despite those victories, many black actors and filmmakers argue that there's still a long way to go, especially at the Academy Awards.
Of the nearly 3000 Oscars that have been awarded since 1929, fewer than 30 been given to people of color.
That number could increase significantly this Sunday with six more people of African descent being up for Academy Awards
My brother, Chiwetel Ejiofor happens to be one of them.
While this year has created a slew of opportunities for black actors, critics say that many of the acclaimed roles are based on true stories and therefore could never have been played by white actors anyway.
It's not like Leonardo DiCaprio can play Nelson Mandela.
One of the only ways where black people get to play the lead is literally when there is no white competition.
David Oyelowo played Louis Gaines in 'The Butler', a movie about an African American White House butler who served 8 American Presidents.
Pam Williams, one of the the movie's producers, says that some investors refused to fund it unless she gave the white actors bigger roles.
One potential investor asked, could we give the butler a white best friend?
I don't think the investors we went to were racist, I think they buy into this myth that is white people only wanna see white people on screen so how can we put more of them into a black movie to make it more acceptable. And more marketable.
According to Rentrak, a company that tracks movie ticket sales, Only five predominantly black movies have made over $100 million domestically.
And then there's the issue of audience, African Americans make up just 11% of frequent moviegoers, while white Americans make up 56%.
The Butler started out with a predominantly black audience, and in the the second week in the box office.. it shifted.. there were more white people going to see the film.
Critics say for black actors get more of these types of roles, multi dimensional, with mass appeal, they need to be more assertive.
Until black people are willing to invest their own money, we're gonna have to settle for what we can get.
A role that Ryan Gosling can play, I don't see why I shouldn't be considered for, if race isn't an issue.