Last year, not a single person of color was nominated among the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ annual acting nominees. This year, the acting Oscar nominees were white across the board once again. This has lead to the #OscarSoWhite trend with actors like Will Smith and directors like Spike Lee refusing to attend the 2016 ceremony. Considering that a majority of Academy members are white, the lack of diversity over the past couple years isn’t all that surprising. Of course that’s still no excuse and many are calling for change. Fortunately, it appears that the Academy has responded.
The Board of Governors released a statement on Friday declaring that they would be “doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.”
“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”
Starting after this year’s Oscar ceremony, several charges are to take effect. To begin, lifetime voting rights for Academy members have been altered. A member will now achieve voting status for a ten year period. Their membership will be renewed if they’ve remained active in film over the past decade. Lifetime voting rights can only be gained after three years of following these terms or if the individual has won/been nominated for an Academy Award. If a member fails to meet this criteria, then they will lose their vote.
In addition, the Academy plans to enlist members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees. According to the Academy, “This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.”
Last year, many people thought Ava DuVernay would become the first African American female to receive a Best Director nomination for Selma. While Selma did receive a Best Picture nomination, DuVernay went unrecognized. DuVernay had this to say on Twitter regarding the Academy’s recent changes:
Aside from failing to nominate many deserving people of color and women artists as of late, some have complained that the Academy refuses to acknowledge mainstream pictures. Sure, they nominated Mad Max: Fury Road this year. What about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though? These changes could potentially lead to the Academy finally acknowledging more audience favorites. Let’s just hope that they make good on their promises by 2020 at the very latest.