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The Academy Approves “Sweeping Series of Substantive Changes” in Response to #OscarsSoWhite

The Academy Approves "Sweeping Series of Substantive Changes" in Response to #OscarsSoWhite

I typically argue against acting/reacting in the thick of the moment, because we tend not to be in the best of psychological states, and, at times, make rash decisions that end up acting more as band-aid to what are deeply-rooted problems. Cooler heads prevail, as the saying goes, and I certainly wasn’t expecting an immediate response from the Academy – at least not until after this year’s event. But a statement has been released this afternoon in response to the overwhelming amount of criticism the Academy has faced since unveiling this year’s Oscar nominees, which I’ve embedded below. The pressure to act was certainly on. 

And while I certainly appreciate the effort detailed below, I still believe what I said in a previous post about Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs unfairly shouldering much of the burden (my point was that, essentially, those with the power to greenlight films, those who make hiring decisions at the studios, the producers, the casting directors, the executives, etc, are all a big part of the problem here).

So a step in the right direction certainly, but still a lot of work to be done before we approach anything that looks like parity.

Hot off the presses, from the Academy…

In a unanimous vote held last night, Thursday (1/21), the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved what it calls a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse – the goal being to double the number of 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.”

– Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. 

– Members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.  

– These same standards will be applied 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.

– Also, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members, by launching what it calls an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.  

– In order to immediately increase diversity on the Board of Governors, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.

– And finally, the Academy will also take immediate action to increase diversity by adding new members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made. This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.

Along with Boone Isaacs, the Board’s Membership and Administration Committee, chaired by Academy Governor Phil Robinson, led the efforts to enact these initiatives.

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