Do the Oscars have a diversity problem? Here’s what America thinks

Jamie BallardData Journalist
February 07, 2020, 7:30 PM UTC

Another year, another set of controversies around the Academy Awards.

Much of the cultural conversation leading up to the 2020 Oscars has focused on the lack of diversity among the nominees. Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo is the only person of color nominated across 20 possible acting spots for this year’s Oscars.

But do most Americans believe that the Oscars is contending with a “diversity problem”?

Data from YouGov suggests that 32 percent of US adults believe that the Oscars have a diversity problem, while 22 percent disagree. Among those who say they plan to watch or follow the Oscars, 50 percent believe that there is a diversity problem. 



A majority of Black Americans (55%) say that the Oscars have a diversity problem. Women (37%) and Millennials (37%) are also particularly likely to say that the Oscars have a diversity problem.

But when asked about the nomination process and how Academy voters should approach the issue, Americans may be more conflicted. 

More than one-third (35%) say that Academy voters should consider diversity in matters of art, meaning they should actively work to nominate a diverse slate of films and actors for the awards. But a nearly equal number (34%) disagree, and 32 percent say they don’t know.



Black (58%) and Hispanic (39%) Americans are more likely than white (30%) Americans to say that diversity should be considered as part of the Oscars nominating process.

In addition to a lack of racial diversity, some cultural critics have noted that all of the nominees for the Best Director award are men, despite the fact that female-directed films were nominated for numerous other Academy Awards.

When asked what they believe the reasoning for this might be, a plurality (36%) of Americans say they think it’s simply because the best directors of the year happened to all be men. About one quarter (26%) say this was a result of a lack of diversity in the nominating process.

Given the conversation so far about the Oscars, perhaps it’s no surprise that most Americans expect the ceremony to be especially political this year.

About half (48%) of US adults say they think this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will be more political than usual. One in five (20%) think this year’s ceremony will be no more or less political than usual, and just 3 percent think that it will be less political than usual.

But many don’t necessarily think that politics have a place at the Oscars. Over half (52%) of US adults say they think it is inappropriate for Oscar winners or hosts to discuss politics during the show. About one-third (34%) say they believe it is appropriate.

How do Americans feel about the nominees themselves?

Data from YouGov Signal, a digital social listening tool that tracks thousands of brands, products, movies and TV shows suggests that most Americans feel positive about this year’s slate of nominees.

Nominees for Best Actress this year include Charlize Theron, Renee Zellweger, Cynthia Ervio, Scarlett Johannsson and Saoirse Ronan. Data from YouGov Signal finds that a majority (64%) of the online conversation related to all five actresses is positive. Theron fares the best, as Signal data indicates that 84 percent of the online conversation around this actress is positive.

Similarly, online sentiment around the five nominees for Best Actor - Antonio Banderas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Joaquin Phoenix, Jonathan Pryce - is more positive (53%) than negative (24%), according to YouGov Signal data. 

See full results here and learn more about YouGov Signal

Image: Getty

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