After years of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that it has changed its inclusion standards for its best picture category, helping to increase the diversity both in front of and behind the camera.
The changes will take effect for the 2024 Oscars.
The Academy laid out the sweeping eligibility reforms, addressing gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and disability. The film academy has established four broad representation categories: On screen; among the crew; at the studio; and in opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release.
Each standard has detailed subcategories as well.
To meet the on-screen representation standard, a film must either have at least one lead character or a significant supporting character be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, at least 30 per cent of secondary roles must be from two underrepresented groups or the main storyline and theme or narrative must be focused on an underrepresented group.
According to the Academy, underrepresented groups include women, people of colour, people who identify as LGBTQ2+ or people with disabilities.
The second category addresses the creative leadership and crew composition of a film. In order to meet the standard, a movie must have either at least two leadership positions or department heads be from an underrepresented group and at least one be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; at least six other crew be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group; or at least 30 per cent of the film’s crew be from an underrepresented group.
The third category deals with paid internship and apprenticeship opportunities as well as training opportunities for below-the-line workers, and the fourth category addresses representation in marketing, publicity and distribution teams.
The best picture award, which is handed out to the producers of a film, is the one category that every film academy member can vote for.
After the announcement on social media, multiple celebrities expressed disgust at the new standards, saying that they stifle artistic licence and impose too-stringent guidelines on Hollywood.
Kirstie Alley, star of the hit ’80s sitcom Cheers, had some choice words in a now-deleted tweet:
“This is a disgrace to artists everywhere…can you imagine telling Picasso what had to be in his f–king paintings. You people have lost your minds. Control artists,control individual thought .. OSCAR ORWELL,” she wrote, referring to George Orwell, the author of dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Despite the deletion, she spent the evening replying to readers’ tweets and adding more fuel to the fire.
Alley also tweeted about diversity and inclusion, and how those concepts should be taught to young children so it becomes “second nature.”
Director Ava DuVernay, a member of the Board of Governors for the Academy as well as a previous Oscar nominee, responded to Alley with a simple GIF:
Fellow actor Justine Bateman, another celebrity best-known for her work in the ’80s, seemed upset with the proposed changes as well.
Actor James Woods, a vocal Twitter user, called the planned changes “madness.”
In 2016, Vanity Fair reported that in 87 years, the Academy awarded Oscars to exactly 12 people of colour out of 44 total nominees. Before #OscarsSoWhite, 92 percent of top film directors were men and 86 percent of top films featured white actors, according to the New York Times.
On Jan. 15, 2015, the Academy awarded all 20 acting nominations to white actors for the first of two consecutive years, eventually spurring the creation of the hashtag.
The 2021 Oscars will take place on April 25, 2021, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
— With files from The Associated Press’ Lindsay Bahr