Academy debuts new Oscars diversity plans, sets 10 Best Picture nominees
The Oscars will make a major play for equity, representation, and inclusion both inside and beyond its ranks.
Atop its previously implemented A2020 initiatives aimed at diversifying its voting ranks, the Academy announced Friday a new series of phased actions, dubbed Academy Aperture 2025, aimed at furthering its efforts to advance inclusion internally as well as in the entertainment industry at large, beginning with changes to its Oscars telecast, group governance, and workplace culture.
Beginning with the 94th Oscars broadcast in 2022, the group's Best Picture category will be set at 10 total nominees as opposed to the currently sliding scale of nominees (determined by the ranked, preferential balloting system). The Academy will also implement a quarterly viewing process through its digital Academy Screening Room by making films released year-round accessible to voting members, broadening each film's exposure in an effort to level the playing field for Oscar contenders from all types of filmmakers. Contending films must also meet new "representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility" beginning with the 2021-22 season.
Internally, the group's Board of Governors participated in an unconscious bias training, which will become mandatory on an annual basis for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members, and Academy staff, with the 9,000+ membership also being offered the opportunity to participate. Furthermore, the Board of Governors also passed a resolution to change bylaws regarding governor term limits. Under the new rules, governors will be allowed to serve on the board for up to two three-year terms, followed by a two-year hiatus, after which their eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms, for a lifetime maximum of 12 years (as opposed to the previous limit of three consecutive three-year terms, with a one-year hiatus, and no lifetime maximum).
Additionally, the Academy will begin hosting "Academy Dialogue: It Starts With Us" panels for members and the public, featuring conversations about "race, ethnicity, history, opportunity, and the art of filmmaking," in addition to conversations on "the systemic changes that need to occur in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing, and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color," per a press release.
"While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement, which also announced the upcoming Academy Museum's expanded Inclusion Advisory Committee comprised 20 filmmakers and executives who will develop diverse exhibitions. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
Elsewhere, the Academy recently elected Selma and 13th filmmaker Ava DuVernay to its board, while it also temporarily altered its eligibility rules for streaming titles amid the coronavirus pandemic forcing theater closures and the Academy's typical screening venues around the world.
Last year, the Academy's new class of members saw 10 branches inviting more women than men, increasing the Academy’s overall female membership to 32 percent — a seven-percent increase since 2015. Across the same frame, that number jumps from eight percent to 16 percent for people of color.
A list of new members invited to join the Academy will be announced next month.