January 22, 2016 4:29 pm
Updated: January 22, 2016 5:13 pm

Oscars pledge to double number of female, minority members by 2020

This file photo shows an Oscar statue as preparations are made for the 87th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body responsible for voting and selecting the nominees and winners of Oscars, pledges to double the number of female and minority members by 2020 in response to #OscarsSoWhite.

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The Academy posted a notice to their website outlining the proposed changes. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and the Board of Governors approved a series of substantive fixes — in a unanimous decision — to their voting process and election of people to the Board.

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

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Beginning later in 2016, 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 10-year terms, or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.

The Board is applying 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.

Director Ava DuVernay, who was snubbed by the Oscars last year for her film Selma, posted her approval of the new initiatives to Twitter, though she thinks it’ll still be a while before diversity is truly achieved.

She then added this as a kicker:

None of these changes will affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

Simultaneously, the Academy is “planning to 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. They also plan on 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.

Early Friday, British actress Charlotte Rampling was a guest on French radio show inrocks.tv. When asked about the current furor involving the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards, she did not mince words.

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“It is racist to whites,” she said. “One can never really know, but perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list,” said Rampling.

When asked if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should start using quotas to select nominees, she responded: “Why classify people? These days everyone is more or less accepted. People will always say: ‘Him, he’s less handsome,’ ‘Him, he’s too black,’ ‘He is too white.’ Someone will always be saying ‘You are too…’ But do we have to take from this that there should be lots of minorities everywhere?”

The actress’s comments conflict with opinions given by her fellow actors — including Mark Ruffalo and George Clooney — who support the calls for increased diversity.

The nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced on Jan. 14, and immediately after they were revealed, the Internet exploded with anger and vitriol. For the second straight year, there were no nominees of colour in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories.

Directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore, along with actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, have all announced they’re boycotting the Oscars ceremony due to the#OscarsSoWhite controversy.

With files from The Associated Press

© 2016 Shaw Media

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