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Academy takes historic action to increase diversity



The Academy responds to #OscarsSoWhite, after stars like Jada Pinkett Smith and the Rev. Al Sharpton announce that they’re boycotting the 2016 Oscars; which for the second consecutive year nominated only White actors.

In a unanimous vote on Thursday, Jan. 21, the board approved a sweeping series of substantive changes in order to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020. Three new governor seats have been added, which will be elected by the president, with major committees restructured to support that.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Beginning 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 in that decade. Members will also receive lifetime voting rights after serving three consecutive terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. However, this will not affect this year’s event.

“In addition, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity,” read the statement.

The Academy will also address its lack of diversity by adding new members who are not governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made. “This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders,” continued the statement released on Friday, Jan. 22.

The changes come soon after Black Hollywood lashed out over the all-White 2016 Oscar nominations. While stars like Spike Lee, Sharpton, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith have decided to sit this one out altogether, celebs like Whoopi Goldberg have asked people to refocus, as the issue is not one of diversity.

Needless to say, it appears that it will be quite some time before our community reaps the rewards of the Academy’s new call to action. But is it enough? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.