An age-bending, all-female, diverse cover of Vanity Fair magazine is being seen as redressing the Oscars race balance, with Ireland’s Saoirse Ronan and three black actresses featuring alongside Hollywood legends such as Diane Keaton and Helen Mirren.
Shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, the cover of its Hollywood 2016 issue is billed as a tribute to “Hollywood’s Fiercest Women” and features Jane Fonda, Viola Davis, and Jennifer Lawrence.
The portfolio of all 13 actresses also includes Cate Blanchett, Charlotte Rampling, Brie Larson, Rachel Weisz, Lupita Nyong’o, Alicia Vikander, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood Issue — now in its 22nd year — has not featured an all-female, multi-generational line-up since 2001, with actresses ranging in age from 21 (Saoirse Ronan) to 78 (Jane Fonda). It is also the first time three black women have appeared in the portfolio at one time.
The inclusion of Davis, Nyong’o and Mbatha-Raw is likely to reignite the row in Hollywood over a virtually all-white group of Oscar nominees which has prompted a number of boycotts of the ceremony.
When Nyong’o won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in 12 Years a Slave in 2014, she became the first Kenyan to win an Oscar, the first African actress to win Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and the first Mexican-born actress to win an Oscar.
Mbatha-Raw is a little known British actress who has been described as “one to watch” despite not being nominated for an Oscar this year.
This year Davis, a producer as well as an actress, won the Screen Actors Guild Award for the second year in a row. The SAG award is one that recognises outstanding performances in film and television and has a reputation for being more diverse than the Oscars.
Dubbed the ‘Anti-Oscars”, Davis, Idris Elba, Queen Latifah, and Uzo Aduba were among the winners.
Receiving her SAG award last weekend, Davis indicated an indifference towards the Oscars boycott.
“People should do what they want to do with the Oscars. If they want to watch it, that’s fine. If they don’t, that’s fine,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
However, the virtual absence of black nominees has prompted directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore and actor Will Smith to refuse to attend this month’s Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
It has also led to the Academy’s board of governors to issue a pledge to double the number of female and minority members within its ranks by 2020.
For the second year in a row, the 20 men and women nominated for the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor are all white.
The Hollywood Issue was not intended as a rebuke to the Oscars, as it was shot last October, before the award nominations.
It includes additional intimate portraits of these stars by Leibovitz and tributes to all of their careers, among them a salute to Ronan, who has been nominated for Best Actress for her role in Brooklyn.
Though a relative newcomer to Hollywood, this is her second time in the running for an Academy Award, with her first nod in 2007 for her role in Atonement.
Brooklyn, based on Colm Toibín’s novel of the same name, is also nominated for Best Picture. It features Saoirse playing an Irish immigrant in 1950s New York.
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