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BCE Students Decide Who Deserves Oscars

Wes between raised hands
Business of Creative Enterprises Director Wes Jackson leads #OscarSoBCE, a BCE Happy Hour event dedicating to film and inclusion, held Wednesday, January 22. Part 2 of the event is scheduled for February 5. Photo/Derek Palmer

By Zenebou Sylla ‘22

The Business of Creative Enterprises (BCE) Happy Hour welcomed back Emerson students and faculty with an Oscar-themed night that celebrated the best films and filmmakers from around the world, turning a more inclusive eye to the nominations than critics say the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has.

#OscarSoBCE (the name is a riff on the original #OscarSoWhite hashtag that went viral in 2015 and subsequent years), held Wednesday, January 22, featured a panel of future film executives and creatives who debated which of this year’s films they thought should receive an Academy Award. The event was led BCE Director and Executive-in-Residence Wes Jackson, who said he wants to build a community within the program.

#OscarSoBCE was created in order to start conversations about larger issues of race, representation, gender, genuine recognition, and what should be the new norm. 

“We [Jackson and his student assistants] came up with the idea for the #OscarSoBCE [following] the controversy that came after the official Oscar nominations and the lack of diversity, both gender [and] racial … We [thought]… ‘Why don’t we have our own BCE awards ourselves?’” said Jackson. 

“I thought that when we were [nominating] we were actually including films that represent us more than the films that the films that were actually nominated, and by nature those happen to be more diverse,” said BCE major Melissa Novotny ‘23.

“I know … that we want to get into the business of [the entertainment industry], the hope being that we can keep making these diverse films and make it more normal,” said Novotny.

woman writes on board
Student assistant Kristen Cawog ’22 keeps track of films nominated in different categories. Photo/Derek Palmer

BCE Happy Hour is a bi-weekly event on Wednesdays, from 5:00-7:00 pm, during which BCE students and faculty members gather for discussions around issues relevant to the creative fields.  Students and faculty from other departments are welcome to join in.

On Wednesday, February 5, the group will wrap up their Oscar season with an awards show.

BCE major Natasha Azadani ’22 said #OscarSoBCE said the current climate in Hollywood skews in favor of older, established artists who are largely white and male.

“[P]eople are getting recognized over others because they have the privilege of not having to work harder to be acknowledged,” Azadani said. “[Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino] all have their names, so I feel like they don’t have to try as hard as [someone] like [Little Women director] Greta Gerwig, who’s a newer director, but she’s a woman.”

#OscarSoBCE, as with all BCE Happy Hour events, serves as a space to allow students’ voices to be heard, and to recognize that their choices, decisions, and ideas matter. 

“I feel like it’s kind of stepping stone to be more comfortable with voicing representation issues and political issues that you might not be comfortable with straight up saying,” Azadani said. “It kind of seems like it’s a bigger conversation that could be had about [in situations] like the government.”

Jackson said he feels like with #OscarSoBCE, he’s “tapped into an energy” that already existed among students.

Students at the #OscarSoBCE Happy Hour event debate which films deserve which awards. Photo/Derek Palmer
200122_BCE-012 BCE Happy Hour ..Our Oscar Nominations!..Students take part in their own Oscar nominations…Photo taken by Derek Palmer on 1/22/20 for Emerson College

“At first I thought I was going to have to referee it, but after a while I [realized] they don’t need me… which is what I love — when they take over the event and [are] happy to have their voice heard,”  he said.

Jackson and BCE students hope that there’s a future in expanding #OscarSoBCE into one of Emerson’s signature events.

“I would love for this to become maybe one of our signature events,” Jackson said. “Emerson has such a great legacy of the EVVY’s … but I would love for [#OscarSoBCE] to be an annual event that brings the whole College together with that BCE name on it.”

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