Local African American Theater Reacts to Record Number of Diverse Oscar Nominations

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2017 Oscar Nominations

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Members of Des Moines’ only African American theater company are cautiously optimistic following this year’s diverse Oscar nominations.

A record number of six African American actors and actresses were nominated for an Oscar and three diverse movies were nominated for best picture.

Artistic Director of Pyramid Theater Company, Tiffany Johnson, says, “I’m happy about it, but it will be more interesting seeing the nominees next year.” She questions if the nominations were reactionary and if the trend will stick around.

The record-breaking nominations come on the heels of two previous Oscar seasons dubbed as “Oscars So White.”

The theater company, which focuses on highlighting black culture and its stories, brought the play “Fences” to Des Moines in 2014, the theater’s debut season.

“Being able to tell these stories is the first way of being able to share history and the way that we as people are more alike than we are different,” says Johnson.

Johnson believes the success of the play and nominated movies are the result of empowering stories than those stereotypical of the black culture.She says introducing people to culturally diverse content at a local level could have an impact on people’s movies interests, which could allow for future productions’ inclusiveness and success.

“I think the stories in our city are going to help us here and across the nation,” says Johnson. “If we could start to adopt that mentality, listening to other people’s stories and understand their cultures and what we celebrate together, we realize how much we are the same. I think it will do a lot to bring us together.”

Pyramid Theater Company will announce its 2017 production season on Tuesday. For more information, click here.

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