Deadline Hollywood reports that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors has agreed to make changes to diversify the Academy’s membership.  The goal, is to DOUBLE the number of women and minority members of the Academy by 2020.  Currently, Oscar voters are nearly 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male, and to make things even more interesting, the average age of the voters increased from 62 to 63.

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

The Academy will 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.

As of right now, there are 8 members who sit on the executive board and Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the ONLY person of color who sits on this board.  There are currently 51 Governors, and again, Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the ONLY person of color who serves as a Governor.

Also, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who have not actively worked in the film industry will be granted “emeritus status” and no longer be able to vote for the Oscars starting later this year.  The Wall Street Journal reports that “a number of retirees or people who have left Hollywood still vote for the Oscars.  Because the Academy’s older members are more likely to be white, the change will likely make its voting membership more racially diverse.”

The official release is below:

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.

We still have a very long way to go; however, it will be interesting to see the change that takes place once these new regulations are implemented.  Let’s hope that by 2020, the infographic below from Lee & Low Books is a thing of the past.

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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