Earlier this week, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the current president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, expressed her dismay with this year’s Oscar nominations, which for a second year in a row, did not include any actors or actress of color (though there were plenty of people of color who deserved a nod for their work in 2015).
In a statement issued this week, Isaacs said it was “time for big changes,” but many weren’t sure of how seriously or how urgently the Academy was treating the lack of diversity until yesterday. On Thursday night, the organization’s board of governors voted unanimously to increase diversity within its membership.
“The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” President Isaacs said in a statement. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”
A number of changes are under way: First, the Academy will begin pruning members who are not active in Hollywood. A new member will be allowed to vote for 10 years. At the end of that 10 years, it will be determined whether they are still active in the film industry. If they’re not, they’ll lose voting privileges. If they’re declared active, they’ll have to remain so for at least 20 more years (or win/be nominated for an Academy Award) to earn permanent voting privileges. This should help clear the academy of older (mostly white and mostly male) voters who were extended membership long before diversity became the issue that it is today.
Secondly, the Academy will launch an “ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.” This campaign will supplement the current membership process, which involves members sponsoring new members and mainly choosing people from within their own social and professional circles.
Finally, the Academy’s board of governors will welcome three new members, all nominated by President Isaacs. In all likelihood, she will nominate minorities to the board, which remains predominantly white.
Though many people will stay wary of the Academy until these new measures begin bearing fruit (as they should), the prospect of change is an exciting one. Even Selma director Ava DuVernay couldn’t resist the urge to share the good news:
(Image via Twitter)