Hot Takes is an original, monthly, Telly Awards interview series featuring a chosen industry leader and expert presenting an unfiltered, unrehearsed response to a hot button topic within their field. What’s your Hot Take? Get in touch with our Senior Producer, Dina Graham at for the chance to be featured!


In its 93 year history, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences have been criticized plenty for its lack of diversity at the Academy Awards. However, one category in particular has led the conversation among certain industry groups for its historic shortfall of inclusion: Best Cinematography. Of the 93 oscars given for the category, only a few have ever strayed from the statistical norm: Once in 1998, with Remi Adaferasin’s historic feat as the first black cinematographer to secure a nomination, in 2016 with Bradford Young as the first African-American to be named a nominee, and in 2017 with Rachel Morrison becoming the first ever woman to be nominated for the category, a small scratch on a very thick glass ceiling.

In an industry already combating centuries of inequality and prejudice among race, gender, orientation, class, and everything in between, one could easily ask why a field under so much scrutiny has not made further leaps towards inclusion. However, reflecting on the progress that has been made and the change that still needs to be done, the better course would not be to further ponder the why, but instead advance to the how in tackling it.

This month’s episode of Hot Takes explores the niche world of cinematography. Statistically a white, male-dominated field, the world behind the camera has expanded its boarders throughout the years…but to whom?

In this episode, cinematographer Maria Rusche, calls out the most pressing obstacles that plague a field craving for diversity and discusses how implementing change must start from the top.

Watch the episode below!


Maria Rusche is Cuban-American, independent cinematographer based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Her narrative work includes Emma Seligman’s feature debut, Shiva Baby, currently in theaters as part of a limited release and available everywhere on streaming, as well as The Rat (Sundance 2019), and One Good Pitch (Tribeca 2016). Her commercial work has been broadcast nationally and includes clients such as Delta, Plan B, Pantene, Stella Artois, Verizon, Smirnoff and more.

Most recently, she shot Season 2 of the hit Showtime series Couples Therapy which premiered in April 2021. In 2018, she was invited to teach Cinematography at NYU Tisch School of the Arts where she is currently an adjunct professor.

“The biggest obstacle to being a cinematographer is access.”