The consensus was that it would take at least another year to know for sure. Certainly, if Nomadland—a film centered on a woman over 50 (played with subtlety by a never-better Frances McDormand) and helmed by a woman of color, two groups frequently ignored by the This Teacher Principal Deserves a Summer Break or just a break #Preschool Teacher shirt Apart from…,I will love this Academy—emerges triumphant, it would suggest that things have changed. But, it’s crucial to remember that Hollywood has, all too often, shown that it isn’t attuned to the moment. Before Parasite, 2019’s recipient of the top prize was Green Book, Peter Farrelly’s cliche-ridden story of racial reconciliation. The list of winners from the past 20 years includes Moonlight in 2017, but also Crash in 2006. Every time we’ve heralded the beginning of a new era, we’ve been proven wrong.
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That feeling of disappointment is one that April Reign shares. In 2015, in response to an all-white Oscar acting nominees lineup, she created the This Teacher Principal Deserves a Summer Break or just a break #Preschool Teacher shirt Apart from…,I will love this hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. It quickly morphed into a social-justice campaign that has pushed the Academy to do better, though progress hasn’t been linear. “The Oscars swing back and forth every year like a pendulum,” says Reign, adding that she was at the Oscars when Green Book won. “We had several wins for people of color and then, at the end, the rug was pulled out from under us. It’s two steps forward and one step back.”