Motion Picture Academy Adopts New Rules to Increase Diversity

Goal Is To Double Number of Women And Minority Members By 2020

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'Shame is a helluva motivator,' said Ava DuVernay, who directed 'Selma.'
'Shame is a helluva motivator,' said Ava DuVernay, who directed 'Selma.' Credit: Francis Specker/Bloomberg News

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, reacting to criticism over its all-white slate of actor nominees this year, is taking steps to improve diversity in the Oscars, including curtailing the voting rights of older, inactive members.

The goal is to double the number of women and minorities who are members by 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said Friday in an e-mailed statement. The organization plans to add three new governors to its board immediately. The changes were approved Thursday night in an emergency meeting.

The absence of a minority nominee for a second straight year, especially after critically acclaimed performances by Will Smith in "Concussion" and Idris Elba in "Beasts of No Nation," has sparked renewed calls for change and a revival of the Twitter hashtag #Oscarssowhite. Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is black, promised there would be changes after the nominations were announced on Jan. 14.

"One good step in a long, complicated journey for people of color + women artists," Ava DuVernay, who directed "Selma," said on Twitter after the announcement. "Shame is a helluva motivator."

Starting 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, the academy said. Lifetime voting rights will be bestowed on individuals after three 10-year terms, or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.

Writers Guild
The Writers Guild of America also moves members to emeritus status after a period of inactivity.

Those who don't qualify for active status in the academy will become emeritus members who enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. The changes won't affect voting for this year's Oscars.

The academy also will add new members who aren't governors to its executive and board committees, according to the statement. That will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.

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

-- Bloomberg News