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Academy President: Despite Steps Towards Diversity, Industry Gravitates To What’s Familiar

"The more that we see talent that is more diverse the more we’ll recognize, 'Oh my goodness, they're actually out there,'" says AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Cheryl Boone Isaacs


Amidst festival season and the constant awards chatter, the ongoing debate over the lack of diversity in Hollywood rages on. In an interview with Toronto International Film Festival director Cameron Bailey, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs discussed the Academy’s push for diversity and how she hopes the general debate will lead to better representation for minorities.

READ MORE: Motion Picture Academy Sticks With Status Quo

However, she also says that the industry routinely falls back on “traditional” hiring practices, such as hiring people they’ve worked with before rather than actively seeking out people outside of their usual circles. “You do tend to not look further than your own space and we’re asking everyone to look further,” says Boone. “The more that we see talent that is more diverse the more we’ll recognize, ‘Oh my goodness, they’re actually out there.'”

Boone intends to radically change the demographics of the Academy membership, which has been dominated by white men for decades. She wishes to double the membership of women and minorities by the year 2020. “Gender and race. It’s a big goal — that is for sure. But if you don’t set a big goal, what is the point?” Earlier this year, the Academy invited 683 potential members into the fold, a move that symbolized Boone’s agenda moving forward.

READ MORE: How the Academy Pushed the Diversity Needle with 683 Member Invites

The 89th Academy Awards will take place in February, 2017.

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