Will Packer Makes History, Leads the First All-Black Production Team at 94th Academy Awards

by Jhanaya Belle

March 29, 2022

Photo by: Mike Coppola/Staff

The 94th Academy Awards was definitely a show for the books!

Movie and television producer Will Packer made history over the weekend when he led the first all-Black production team in Oscars history, alongside his longtime co-producer Shayla Cowan.

“I’m someone who always believes, ‘I can show you better than I can tell you,’” Packer expressed to the Tampa Bay Times.

Photo by: Handout/Handout

The St. Petersburg native continued: “I’m proud of ours being the first all-Black team, but I don’t feel the need to talk about it inordinately. I’d rather show the world what we can do, and then after the fact, we can talk about how great the result was that this particular team produced. There is no doubt our skill sets and perspectives are allowing us to create a show that will be different than that of our predecessors.”

Academy President David Rubin confirmed last October that the Emmy nominated producer would be producing the 2022 Oscars.

Packer expressed his dissatisfaction with the award event in 2016, acknowledging his disgust with the lack of diversity.

Photo by: Prince Williams/Contributor

“To my Academy colleagues, WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. Period,” Packer said as the result of the lack of representation of diversity with the 2016 Academy Award nominations.

The 47-year-old added: “The reason the rest of the world looks at us like we have no clue is because in 2016 it’s a complete embarrassment to say that the heights of cinematic achievement have only been reached by white people. I repeat — it’s embarrassing.”

All 20 acting nominees were white, as were all but one directorial nominee. Director Alejandro G. Iárritu, who is Mexican was the exception.

Furthermore, none of the best film nominees during that year had a largely black cast. Movies such as Straight Outta Compton and Creed were not nominated.

Not only did Packer feel the lack of diversity in 2016 was “embarrassing,” but he also admitted that the Oscars are simply one facet of the diversity problem.

Photo by: Amanda Edwards/Stringer

“These films/performances and the scripts that drive them often go into development YEARS before they are released and thus in Oscar contention,” he said. “We need more content produced by, written by, directed by, and featuring filmmakers and actors of color being given the greenlight. We need them to start moving forward this year so in 2019 there are quality projects in contention!”

How do you think Will Packer do as a Black producer of the Academy Awards?

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