Los Angeles - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences on Friday promised sweeping reforms designed to help diversify its membership
in the face of a major controversy over the second straight year of all-white
Oscar acting nominations.
The Academy's board said it was taking "historic
action" to double the number of women and minority members by 2020 and
launch a global effort to "recruit qualified new members who represent
"These new measures regarding governance and voting
will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing
our membership composition," said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
The changes were approved in a unanimous vote by the
Academy's board of governors on Thursday, following days of criticism that for
a second year in a row, all 20 actors nominated for Oscars were white.
Acclaimed director Spike Lee, who won an Oscar last year
honouring his lifetime achievements, wrote an open letter to the Academy
decrying the "lily white" nominations.
Mega-star Will Smith - one of the black actors seen as
having been passed over for a nomination this year - and his wife Jada Pinkett
Smith followed Lee in announcing that they too would stay away from the
ceremony on February 28.
On Friday, British actress Charlotte Rampling - nominated
for best actress for 45 Years - waded into the row by saying Lee
had been "racist to whites" in his criticism.
"You can never know for sure, but maybe black actors
did not deserve to be in the final selection," Rampling told Europe 1
radio, speaking in French.
The Academy announced that beginning later this year - not
affecting votes for the 2016 Oscars - each new member's voting status will last
10 years, and be renewed if they have been active in movies during that time.
Members will get lifetime voting rights after three 10-year
terms, or if they win or are nominated for an Academy Award. The same standards
will apply retroactively to current members.
Those who do not qualify for active status will not be able
To increase diversity on the board of governors immediately,
the Academy said it would establish three new governor seats that will be
nominated by the president for three-year terms and confirmed by the board.
It will also involve new members on decisions about
membership and governance, giving them a chance to become more active in
decision-making and to help spot and nurture future leaders.
The announcement was quickly welcomed by Ava DuVernay,
director of civil rights movie Selma, which was nominated for best
picture last year - but not for best director or actor.
"One good step in a long, complicated journey for
people of color + women artists," she wrote on Twitter.
Tom O'Neil, founder of awards prediction site goldderby.com,
told AFP it was a "dramatic first step" but urged caution on the
The Academy currently has 6 261 voting members, all of whom
work in the film industry.
According to a 2012 study by the Los Angeles Times, nearly
94% of the Academy voters are white and 77% male.
An Academy spokesperson said the hope is that the reforms
would lead to women making up 48% of total active voting membership.
"If the academy is going to double that number, that's
a huge leap up," said O'Neil. The Times study found blacks make up two
percent of the Academy and Latinos less than two percent.
But O'Neil added: "Is it enough (to double up?) - these
numbers are so small."
In his open letter on Monday, Lee suggested that studios
adopt a system akin to that used by the National Football League, which
requires that minorities be interviewed when coach or executive positions open
Hollywood A-lister George Clooney, himself an Oscar winner,
has said the problem is the lack of options available to minorities in quality
Deadpool director Tim Miller reportedly quit the sequel after he and Ryan Reynolds disagreed over the casting of Cable. Read More »
Add your review
Jennifer Lawrence is set to star as Zelda Fitzgerald in a new biopic currently known as Zelda. Read More »
Add your review
10 epic pics.
All the deets.
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 2 495 000
HousesR 3 220 000
HousesR 1 985 000