The Academy Introduces Major New Changes To Increase Oscar Diversity

In an emergency meeting held Thursday night, members of the Academy Motion Picture Arts & Science held a meeting to address the diversity issues and to come up with a plan to do better, immediately. As reported by Variety, the plan will address the recruitment process and will also add three additional seats to the board.

Cheryl Boone Issacs said in a statement Friday, “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

The change to the rules for voting and membership are as follows, emphasis ours.

Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if the new member has been active in film during that decade.  In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have been nominated for an Academy Award.  The Academy will apply these same standards retroactively to current members.  In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting.

The addition of the emeritus status seems to be the quickest way to insure that a bunch of old white men aren’t controlling the majority of the votes. This change, along with the addition of 3 seats to the 51-seat board, were approved unanimously Thursday night, proving to me that Cheryl Boone Isaacs means business.

The unbearable whiteness of the Oscars isn’t that much of a secret, but the uproar caused by yet another year of white nominees has proven to be the last straw.  Spike Lee and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are boycotting the ceremony, and actors like Lupita N’yongo, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Ruffalo and John Krasinski have spoken out against the Oscar’s diversity problem.

Chris Rock is slated to host the Oscars this year, which are on February 28th. I can’t wait.