LOS ANGELES — Responding for the first time to the firestorm that erupted over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations, film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs says the all-white acting slate inspires her to accelerate the academy’s push for more diversity.

The first black president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spoke out Friday night in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press about the Oscar nominations and the widespread criticism that followed.

All 20 of this year’s acting contenders are white and there are no women in the directing or writing categories. After the nominations were announced Thursday morning, the #OscarsSoWhite started trending on Twitter.

The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition issued a statement Friday saying the nominations balloting “obviously reflects a lack of diversity in Oscar voters as well as in films generally.”

Yet Boone Isaacs insisted the academy is “committed to seeking out diversity of voice and opinion” and that outreach to women and artists of color is a major focus.

“In the last two years, we’ve made greater strides than we ever have in the past toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive organization through admitting new members and more inclusive classes of members,” Boone Isaacs said. “And, personally, I would love to see and look forward to see a greater cultural diversity among all our nominees in all of our categories.”

She declined to address whether she and the academy were embarrassed by the slate of white contenders, instead insisting that she’s proud of the nominees, all of whom deserved recognition.

She explained that all voting is individual and confidential.