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Academy Takes Steps to Increase Diversity

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The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted unanimously late last week to approve a series of changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies and its voting members significantly more diverse. The board’s goal is to double the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

“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.”

The move comes after controversy erupted when the Academy nominated all white actors and actresses for the second year in row.

Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will only be renewed if the 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. These standards will be applied retroactively to current members. In other words, members that have not been active in the last 10 years will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. Members can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

At the same time, the Academy is 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 add 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.

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