Tag Archives: leadership

The Oscars and Hollywood’s version of creativity

March 10, 2023


Chris Bilton, Stephen Cummings and dt ogilvie consider the ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ of the creative process and how this translates in the movie world.

The Oscars ceremony this Sunday sees the Academy under fire again for a lack of diversity in nominations. No women directors nominated and no black nominees for best actor or best actress. Asian talent may enjoy a moment with Everything Everywhere All at Once, and we might get to see Angela Bassett, Ke Huy Hwang or Michelle Yeoh speaking out on the need for diversity in Hollywood. But, overall, not much is different at the top of the bill.

According to a recent report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative increasing the representation of women and non-white nominees at the Oscars has been a slow process. In the 8 years since 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite protest, nominations from global majority racial ethnic groups increased by 8% compared to the previous 8 years. Women nominations were up from 21% to 27% in the same period (a step forward perhaps, but well short of parity).

There have been isolated successes – Moonlight’s best picture win in 2017, Chloe Zhao becoming the second ever woman to win a best director Oscar in 2021. And as in previous years, we can expect a more diverse set of nominations and winners if we scroll down to the less glamorous categories like ‘Best Song’. Sunday’s ceremony will no doubt attempt to compensate for a lack of diversity on screen with a diversity of presenters onstage.

It has been a similar story with other recent awards ceremonies – at the BAFTAs all 49 winners were white. The ‘Brits’ music awards’ attempt to be more inclusive by removing gender categories backfired, with an all-male shortlist in the ‘best artist’ category.

Awards ceremonies are a mess of contradictory aims – celebrating industry success, rewarding and recognising individual talent, unwittingly promoting role models or tropes. But above all they are about marketing. At a time when the film industry is fighting to remain viable and relevant for younger audiences, and still trying to win back audiences captured by streaming services during Covid-19, all white shortlists are a bad look. But there is another important element hidden in all this.

The Oscars remain important because they tell us about how the industry (still) sees itself, and what the movie industry thinks ‘creativity’ looks like. Regardless of colour and gender, creativity in Hollywood is presented as a story of glamourous individual talent and big business. Those who make the star turn possible might be thanked on the night, but the ‘craft’ awards won by teams are mostly skipped in the live broadcast. Awards ceremonies also leave out the wider industry ‘culture’ – the deal-makers who provide access, the writers, the influencers, the networkers. In our Creativities book we argue that focusing on one type of person or one type of ‘creative’ thinking misses out the complexity and multiplicity of the real creative process. There are many different ways to be creative – understanding the various ‘creativities’ we ourselves possess and can identify in the others we combine with will help us to make new creative connections.

In our book Creativities we consider the ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ of the creative process. In our ‘how’ chapter, we consider how leaders mix and enable (or not) other people’s creativities – Harvey Weinstein’s leadership being a case study of what happens when one entitled individual is allowed to dominate, exclude and marginalise other creativities. In our ‘who’ section, we consider how the circle of creativity can be expanded to include other voices – and describe the role of prominent industry figures like Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rimes in opening doors for black talent in television.

However, the starting point for ‘creativities’ is the list of ingredients. This is the ‘what’ of creativity, and diversity and authenticity of ingredients is the basis for all the recipes which follow. Finding the right combination of ingredients is partly a matter of seeking them out from unexpected places, but also recognising what you already have. Most of the stories we tell here are about the overlooked or hidden creativities – the creativities of Lewis Latimer, the black innovator who turned Edison’s ‘invention’ of the lightbulb into a viable product, or ‘Peaches’ Bartkowicz, who pioneered the double-handed backhand in tennis because she and her supporters backed her to do it her own way. Neither of them received much recognition, but both transformed their respective fields.

That diversity is so important to creativity, and it is out there – just don’t expect to see much of it on display in the ‘winners’ lists on Sunday night. When it comes to inequality, the Oscars are a symptom of industry failure rather than a cause. Structural inequalities across the creative industries are nothing new, and an awards ceremony is not going to change them. The Oscars are the story the industry tells the world about itself. Most of the interesting parts in that story get swept under the red carpet or drowned out by the exit music. But away from the bright lights, other creative stories are being told, they just aren’t being heard. Look closely on Sunday and you might catch sight of the unsung groups, teams and connections behind the star performers, and the possibility for new creativities they are shaping rather than the individual past glories being held on too.

Creativities: The What, How, Where, Who and Why of the Creative Process is out now.

Chris Bilton, University of Warwick, UK, Stephen Cummings, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and dt ogilvie, Rochester Institute of Technology, US

Read Part One free on Elgaronline

Continue reading...

What do we really need in a crisis? Caring leadership

April 30, 2020


iStock-1141201373-caring-handsLeah Tomkins explores the complexities of caring and leadership in a crisis […]

Continue reading...

Some Consolation for the Indecisive

January 17, 2018



Modern life is full of decisions – so just how do we know what we want? Karin Brunsson explores the complexities of choice. […]

Continue reading...

What’s Beyond the Glass in Career Advancement for Women?

September 14, 2017


iStock-533921850-women-men-running-2Tracey Robinson takes a look at the emotive language surrounding women and their careers. […]

Continue reading...

Emancipation Through Emotion Regulation at Work

June 13, 2017


Dirk Lindebaum discusses the motivation behind his new book.

Continue reading...
%d bloggers like this: