Academy Institutes 'Sweeping' Changes to Diversify Membership After Controversy Over All-White Acting Nominees

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty

The Academy has a new set of rules.

Following uproar over the lack of diversity among this year’s acting nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be implementing a “sweeping series of substantive changes” in order to make its “membership, its governing bodies and its voting members significantly more diverse,” the group announced Friday.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs 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.”

Following this year’s award ceremony, each new member of the Academy will have a 10-year voting status based on how active they have been in motion pictures during that decade. However, if a member does not meet the qualifications necessary to be considered active, they cannot vote.

The Academy, however, is still allowing for lifetime membership. According to the announcement, “Members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.”

In order to both grow and diversify the voting panel, along with allowing current members to sponsor new members, the Academy is launching a global campaign to recruit new members who they believe “represent greater diversity.”

The new guidelines don’t merely cover voting protocol. The Academy is also creating three new governor seats – to be nominated by the president – and opening up its executive board to new members, to weigh in on decisions about membership and future policies.

“This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.”

The Academy voted on these guidelines Thursday night and hope the new rules will double the number of diverse members by 2020.

Isaacs announced that the Academy would be conducting a review of its membership recruitment guidelines after a number of high-profile celebrities spoke out about non-white actors being shut out of the acting categories for the second consecutive year.

“This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes,” she said. “The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.”

“This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ’60s and ’70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”

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