Following Outcry, 'Sweeping' Reforms Announced to Expand Oscars Diversity

October 7, 2020 0 By PENTICTONLAWYERS

Following a week of stinging rebukes, boycott announcements, and high-profile commentary from some of the film industry’s most prominent performers, writers, and directors, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body which officiates the Oscars each year, announced it would be making “sweeping” changes in order to increase diversity among its notoriously secretive, homogenous, and elite membership.

In a statement released Friday, the Academy said it  will “commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020” by enacting a series of reforms including new recruitment efforts and creating new board seats.

“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.” Isaacs had been under particular pressure since the 2016 nominees announced two weeks ago included not a single person of color in any of the high-profile acting categories.

In 2012, reporting by the Los Angeles Times showed that voting members of the Academy were 94% Caucasian and 77% male. The academy did not list specific numbers for the new membership goals.

As the Guardian reports, the initial response to the Academy’s announcement on Friday appeared to be “largely positive.” Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, a black woman whose film Selma was nominated for an Oscar last year, responded on Twitter by calling the move “one small step in a long and complicated journey for people of color [and] women artists.”

Referencing the intense national debate that has taken place in recent days, DuVernay said that “Shame” has proved itself “a helluva motivator.”