Academy Unveils Major Rule Changes To Diversify Oscars

UPDATED with Kevin Tsujihara statement: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors has unanimously approved “substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse,” following a vote Thursday night. The goal, according to AMPAS, is to double the number of women and minority members of the Academy by 2020.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.” — AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

Among the key changes approved, AMPAS will increase the governing board with three new members to be named by the President and approved by the board in order to “allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making,” according to the organization, “and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.”

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said AMPAS 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.”

Early tonight, Warner Bros Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara issued a statement on the Acacemy’s moves: “The changes being made by AMPAS are a great step toward broadening the diversity and inclusivity of the Academy and, by extension, the industry. Entertainment is a global business, and the content we produce and its creators need to reflect the diversity and different perspectives of the worldwide audience we serve. At Warner Bros, we’re committed to this goal, but there is more we must and will do.”

Here is the rest of the Academy’s release:

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. In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We 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. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

At the same time, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching 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.

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.

The announcement came shortly after news broke of the latest screen figure to join the raging debate on the issue of diversity and the lack of non-Caucasian nominees in the acting categories for two years running. In Paris, Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling (for 45 Years) told a radio interviewer that the controversy “is racist to whites.”

  1. and if that doesn’t work, then what? How many nominations is “enough”? Somehow they seem to assume all minority voters will vote for minorities.

    1. Exactly! That is the inherent problem with this argument – they’re essentially assuming that each race only votes for members of their own race. That is hugely insulting to every voting member, existing or future. I think it will be HILARIOUS if next year’s nominees are still all white regardless of the induction of more minorities – and by the way, what they’re really complaining about is blacks only.

      1. Omg I’m shocked.
        Wow. Actually doing something.
        It was so much fun complaining and counter complaining.

      2. Add a category for COMEDY. !!!!!!!!!!
        stop Descriminating against FUNNY actors and movies……!!!!!!

  2. And never again will a minority receiving an Oscar be viewed as having gotten it on merit. On the other hand, it’ll look especially good for a white person every time he gets on Oscar seeing as how the Academy very actively tries to combat that. The Academy has screwed itself.

    1. Great point Anonymous…And what are the “other criteria” when someone hasn’t acted in or worked on a film in the last 10 years? That sounds arbitrary and I can just hear the phone calls to the Academy from people of stature who are older and retired or just have not worked in a while that they now want to remove to a new status.
      This will affect women especially as they get fewer jobs to begin with and even fewer as they age.

  3. I applaud The Academy for taking such swift and immediate action. This seems smart and thoughtful and heading in the right direction.

    Side note: Will & Jada Smith should still never be nominated for an Oscar and nobody will miss them from the show this year!

  4. A knee jerk reaction to a knee jerk situation. The next area AMPAS will attack is using full size actors heads on little people bodies to play dwarves, etc. Soon, the Academy will forbid head/body replacements and insist little people are used and new categories will be created for them. And on and on and on this will go until the industry changes it’s hiring policies.

    Perhaps, one of the best comments concerned the boycotting Will Smith and his production company is that does not seem to find black directors to do Will’s films. Talk is cheap, Will.

    In any case, this entire issue will lead only to more issues which will eventually water down the Academy to a ‘politically correct’ organization which presents awards by race not skill. Swell.

    Nice going, AMPAS. You just keep on digging a bigger hole.

    1. Diverse? As in the diversity that blacks are talking about? Which means “blacks only.” Where is the talk about other races? Right..of course not.

      And what is AMPAS doing to create diversity in the industry? This is a damn award….not a job. But Cheryl is out to promote Cheryl.

      And what is Jada doing to promote diversity? She sits in her mansion with maids from all the money that Will made. working with, as she says, the “white industry.” What are you doing Jada? Nothing of course.

      1. Jada and Will do nothing. I was shocked to learn this week that Will has never had a black director on any of his movies.

        1. Will Smith handpicked Michael Mann over Spike Lee to direct ALI. Was he being racist or did he want the best movie?

          1. Will Smith was wrong in his choice. Michael Mann did a terrible job with ALI, a superficial examination of the one of the 20th century’s greatest men. Spike Lee, by comparison, did a wondrous job with MALCOLM X, taking a great civil rights leader who has been misunderstood and unjustly maligned and portraying him with compassion and authenticity. When I walked out of ALI, I said to myself: “What a wasted opportunity. Spike Lee should have directed this film.”

        2. I didn’t know that. Malcolm X was phenomenal. Spike Lee would have done a great job with Ali which was not a good movie.

  5. So, basically, they’re going to add more black and Hispanic members so the black members can vote for black actors, the Hispanic members can vote for Hispanic actors, the white members can keep voting for the white actors, and it’ll all even out and there won’t be any more racism in the academy. Ok….

  6. How will this help diversity if the same limited number of roles are going to the minorities in the first place?? Now they’re simply going to choose O’Shea Jackson Junior for Compton over Matt Damon for Martian just to “be more diverse.”

    The best talent must be chosen, which unfortunately, those roles mostly belong to white people. Once the great roles in great films increase for minorities, than the Oscars can be more diverse. Forcing diversity in the meantime will not help anything.

    1. yup what you said. The change needs to come in the material and the roles not by adding diverse members to the Academy. I am black and would never vote for a black person because they are black. I’d vote solely on performance. This really irks me!

  7. The message I am getting here is: “The Academy will keep changing the rules until it results in 1/2 of the winners being ‘minorities.””

    1. I am for the rights of everyone regardless of race or social status or any prejudice, but this year there were too many great performances and movies and only 5 slots for male actors. My best friends are black, so I am pro diversity, because I am white, but I think there just weren’t enough spaces for all the great performances and films. I thought Will Smith was really great in his role, I thought Abraham Attah and Jacob Tremley were terrific but they don’t have a child category. Irdis Elba was terrific along with that whole cast. I also thought The Danish Girl was great, all white, but it’s not nominated nor is Spielberg. Some great movies didn’t make it on the list nor their directors who were white. I loved Paul Dano, but he isn’t nominated. I am so impressed by how young the director Ryan Croogler of Creed is and his great talent, but there were too many really terrific films this year with great directors and great performances. I was telling a friend of mine that a month ago, stating that luckily there are multiple awards shows so all the deserving people can be up for something. It should be about performance and the skill of the persons craft, period.

  8. I think Michael Caine summed it up best this week,”You can’t vote for an actor because he’s black.”

  9. Didn’t a minority’s director win both best picture last year and the year before… Alejandro & bird man and 12 years a slave before that. How and where is there a lack of diversity

    1. How many minorities won best actor or actress over the last 50 years… I’ll wait. One or two every decade doesn’t equal “all is well!”

      1. Well over the past ten years it’s been 6 of 40. 15 percent. That sounds like over-representation to me.

        1. Anonymous, check your math. The question is how many minorities won best actor or actress over the last 50 years. The answer is 5: Halle Berry (2002), Forest Whitaker (2006), Jamie Foxx (2004), Denzel Washington (2001), Ben Kingsley (1982). Out of 100 possible winners, that’s 5%. Over the last 10 years, best actor / actress wins for minorities: 1. One. Uno. Out of possible 20 wins. Again that’s 5%. Still sound like over-represenation to you?

  10. What a terrible result. Its a laughably inappropriate solution to a problem that doesnt lie with the academy. It’s patently racist – who says a black members will necessarily vote for black talent? The issue is the pool of films being made, not the people who vote on them. and nothing the Academy has done comes close to addressing it. I’m sorry, but Will Smith wasn’t as good as the other nominees this year. Its a tossup between Johnny Depp and Idris Elba – but I don’t see Johnny complaining about not being nominated. Maybe Jacob Tremblay should insist that more kids be admitted to the academy too. Charlize can lead the charge for former models turned actors.

    And this BS about taking voting rights away from members who haven’t worked in 10 years unless they’ve won or been nominated for an Oscar? There are countless people who spent their whole lives in the industry working who retired. Now we are supposed to discount their opinion because a few black people weren’t nominated for work that wasn’t deserving anyway?

    this is complete bs. Frankly, Academy members over the age of 60 should be furious and stage a boycott of their own.

    1. I don’t have a problem with people not currently working in the film industry not voting on the current films being made. I realize that’ll potentially be me one day, but I’m still okay with it. Of course, I’m white so I’ll always have a shot at being nominated and maybe even winning. It’ll just be a more leveled played field and I’m okay with that, too. It’d be nice if we could just worry about making more quality movies instead of this plethora of box office record breaking dreck.

  11. Agree with comments above about Academy’s knee-jerk, politically correct reaction to an industry issue. I noticed that members who haven’t been “active” for 10 years won’t be able to vote. Is the Academy implying that “non-active” members are anti-diversity old farts who who need to be expurged? I find this assumption about the Academy’s membership extremely racist, thoughtless and lacking any data substantiation.

    1. It’s ageism at its best. Not only will people continue having a problem getting a job when they get older, now the Academy will make it easier to expunge them from the academy.

      1. The repercussions for women, especially in the acting branch, will be atrocious. Men in this town continue working into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. How many women can you say that about?

    2. Agreed. Judging from these comments, The Board’s panic attack has utterly failed. Man, this is embarrassing.

  12. The Academy’s president – a woman of color whose field is publicity, and who is certainly not representative of the membership – has just informed members that the governing board made a “courageous” decision to help this “problem” of not having a black actor nominated. The opinions of writers, actors, directors or cinematographers who made their living in the business and who were accepted into the Academy based on their work, are now only good if they are still active. Not active in an intellectual sense, or in the ability to make esthetic judgements, but active in the movie business right now. So the idea of maintaining a standard or a tradition doesn’t mean anything. What has meaning is what is being done at the current time. That’s why they are packing the membership with industry executives and publicists and casting directors—the people who work in the “business” side, not the “artistic” side of the business. They can be counted on to do whatever shilling or political correctness is required; those “artistic” types, those who think outside of the parameters of race or box office, can be put in the corner.

    1. Thank you! Plus, Ms. Boone should step down. The president should not be anyone who has never been ACTIVELY involved in MAKING a film. She is NOT a part of the creativity of our industry…..she’s a people pimp, the cockroaches of our industry.

  13. This is ridiculous. It assumes people vote for their own race. I’m a minority and I vote for whoever moves me, not for the colour of their skin.
    This misguided initiative assumes that white people are racist, and that minorities are naturally predisposed against whites.

  14. All these rule changes are sensible, but what disheartens me is that not one studio executive from the big Six has yet to announce any initiative to increase diversity on their lots, because that is where this problem germinates from.

  15. This is NOT the Solution. While I applaud that Academy’s effort to diversify it’s ranks, the bigger issue here is that the material and roles for minorities need to be elevated in the film space. They need to borrow from the TV play book which has really opened up opportunities for people of color and sexual minorities. As a person of color who works in the executive ranks in Hollywood, i see things changing albeit at a slow pace but it is ridiculous to try to “affirmative action” awards. Awards should be determined by the strength of the performers year to year not by forcing people to choose someone because they are a certain race. This really bothers me and I think undos the many years of hard work people like me have been putting in to changing things behind the scenes.

    So unhappy about this.

  16. I’m kind of staggered by this huge outcry, a mere two years after 12 Years A Slave swept the Oscars. –And when, in recent memory, an Asian and a Mexican won Best Director! Short memories, guys.

    I personally feel that the roots of the problems women and minorities face in the entertainment business are societal — not entertainment specific. And that’s a whole other discussion.

    Interestingly, nobody seems to be focusing on, to me, the more interesting facet of these reforms — that a large number of grey haired voters will be jettisoned. I feel sympathy for these people — we’ll all be there soon enough.

    But. Whether to minorities’ favor or detriment, this decision is definitely going to alter the voting landscape. For better or worse, hipper, younger films are going to have more of a shot, and turgid “important” issue movies may recede as Best Picture bait.

    These changes could provoke a return to the kinds of winners we saw in the ’70’s (okay, in a good year), as younger voters aren’t as likely to leave the screenings muttering things like, “That Travis Bickle character was SO unsympathetic!”

    (Don’t jump all over my shit. I know all older voters don’t have stodgy taste. And, for the record, I’m over 50.)

  17. what a disaster

    there is one good solution

    RECALL Cheryl Issacs and FIRE DAWN HUDSON

  18. Conservatives should applaud the new rules as they incentivize Academy members to keep working professionally in order to retain the right to be judges of other professionals. Someone who hasn’t worked in 20 years really doesn’t have a meritocratic claim to judge the talent of current working professionals. If you want the right to judge who is the best professional, you need to still be a working professional yourself.

    1. And what happens if you can’t get a job because of age discrimination? This is a very real problem in our industry.

    2. So someone who worked in the film business for say 30 years and retired has less authority or expertise to judge a film than a new member fresh out of film school who has been in the business maybe 5 years? I think not.

      1. The criteria seems fair. Haven’t worked in 10 years or haven’t been nominated or won. It’s reasonable.

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