The firestorm over the Oscars’ lack of diversity just led the Academy to make some big changes

Enough already. Right?
Enough already. Right?
Image: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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After coming under fire for the lack of diversity in its Oscar nominees this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has pledged that it will double the number of “women and diverse members” in its ranks by 2020, and will change up its voting rules.

The measures, approved Thursday night (Jan. 21) in a unanimous vote by the group’s board of governors and announced today (Jan. 22), are intended to increase diversity not just in the Academy’s membership but in the Academy Award nominees the group selects.

Previous attempts to diversify the membership have failed to bring substantive change to the Academy’s makeup, in part because those invited into the Academy are made members for life. Starting this year, though, voting rights will be guaranteed for just 10 years, and renewed only if the member “has been active in motion pictures during that decade,” the Academy said. Those who fail to qualify will be moved to emeritus status, which will not come with voting privileges.

The new rules will apply to both new and existing members, but won’t affect the current membership’s ability to vote for this year’s Oscar winners.

The Academy also announced plans for an “ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.” In addition, it plans to welcome more people of color to its decision-making bodies, by adding three new seats to its board of governors and by expanding its executive and board committees.

It’s unclear how many women and people of color are already in the Academy, and thus, how many the Academy will have to add over the next four years to reach their goal. (The group does not disclose its actual membership.) The most recent attempts to quantify the diversity of the membership suggest the proportion of white members is above 90%—while the proportion of white nominees in the top 20 acting spots for this year’s awards is 100%.