Actor and comedian Chris Rock is hosting the 88th Academy Awards — the 2016 Oscars ceremony that has caused so much controversy over diversity. Rock, 51, tells The Hollywood Reporter back in December while shooting promos and prior to the nominations announcement, “I’m only here because Ellen didn’t want to do the show. I’m only here cause Ellen said no. And I’m sure she said no like eight times.” In “between projects” at the time, he adds, “I told my agent I wanted to present because it’s like, what’s easier and better than presenting? You come in, do something really funny and get out of there. But it just seemed like a good time. I hadn’t [hosted] in a while.”
Once the nominations were announced, the Academy endured backlash from Hollywood and media. It led to the rehashing of the #OscarSoWhite as a trending topic, a big debate about diversity and inclusion.
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs took swift action. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”
In January, the Academy made a historic move to increase diversity by reframing lifetime voting rights, adding new governor seats and restructuring the committees. They’ve set a goal to double number of diverse members by 2020.
Beginning later 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 during that decade. In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.
At the same time, 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.
In order to immediately increase diversity on the Board of Governors, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.
The Academy will also take immediate action to increase 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.
Rock has steer cleared of interviews with media and hasn’t spoken much on the subject with one exception. He took to social media to air his opinion. He tweeted: “The #Oscars. The White BET Awards.”
Turns out, the star canceled all press opportunities after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy — including his The Hollywood Reporter cover profile interview for the March 4, 2016, issue. Rock is back for the second time. He first hosted the Oscars in 2005.
The 88th Academy Awards airs this Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, live from the Dolby Theater during Black History Month.