The Academy of Motion Pictures pledges 'radical changes' to increase diversity

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Bowing to criticisms that nominees for the film industry's highest honors continue to be reserved for a homogenous bloc of Hollywood, the Academy of Motion Pictures has pledged to make 'radical changes' to increase diversity, the New York Times reported Friday.


Voting requirements, member recruitment and the board's governance structure are all being targeted, the Times said. For instance, voting status may be revoked for those who have not been active in the movie business in a decade.

All 20 nominees for this year's four best actor and actress categories are white, which led to the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite going viral on social media. Prominent black actors and directors including Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have announced they won't be viewing the Oscars when they're televised in February.

According to a Los Angeles Times survey published in 2012, of the approximately 6,000 voting academy members, 94% of Oscar voters were white, and 77% were male. Oscar voters had a median age of 62, and individuals younger than 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.

"Membership is generally for life, and hundreds of academy voters haven't worked on a movie in decades," the Los Angeles Times noted. "Some are people who have left the movie business entirely but continue to vote on the Oscars—including a nun, a bookstore owner and a retired Peace Corps recruiter. Under academy rules, their votes count the same as ballots cast by the likes of Julia Roberts, George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio."

One old, inert director was not thrilled with the news.

“The notion of having my academy vote taken away from me because of age, and inactivity in the industry, is outrageous,” one film director, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid conflict with peers, told the Times in an email shortly before the changes were announced.


Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.