Big changes are coming to the film academy, as it seeks to make Oscars, moviemaking more inclusive

Key Points
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is making big changes to its Oscar eligibility rules in an effort to foster more inclusivity. 
  • The organization will require unconscious-bias training for top officers and offer panels about fostering diversity in front of and behind the camera.
  • The academy has placed new term limits on its governors' tenures.
Oscar Statue at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on February 23, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Rodin Eckenroth

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is expanding its efforts make its membership more inclusive and address the lack of diversity in its annual awards.

On Friday, the organization announced the next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative, which began in 2016 after it was apparent that there were disproportionately more white nominees than those of color.

Among the goals it had set for 2020 was doubling the number of women and people of color within its membership. The academy said it has met the goal of doubling its membership of people of color and expects to finish doubling its membership of women by the end of the year.

Now, the academy is taking aim at its awards ceremony's eligibility guidelines. Currently, the best picture category allows for between five and 10 nominees. The final number each year is dependent on a tiered voting system. However, starting next year, 10 movies will be nominated each year.

The organization will also implement a quarterly viewing process through its Academy Screening Room, a streaming site for academy members. This will allow members to view films that were released throughout the year and broaden the exposure for each film, leveling the playing field and making sure all eligible films can be viewed by voting members. 

In collaboration with the Producers Guild of America, the academy has also pledged to create a task force to develop new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31.

Ultimately, the academy aims to make its awards ceremony and the films that are eligible for its awards better reflect the diversity of the film community. These additional initiatives come as protests against police brutality and racial profiling have surged across the country, prompting discussions about diversity and inclusivity in industries such as Hollywood.

"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," Dawn Hudson, CEO of the academy, said in a statement. "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."

The academy is also adjusting its bylaws to limit how long its governors can serve on the board and is making unconscious-bias training mandatory for all academy governors, branch executive committee members and academy staff on an annual basis.

Additionally, the academy will host a series of panels for its members and the public to have conversations about race, ethnicity, history, opportunity and the art of filmmaking. Whoopi Goldberg will host one session that talks about the lasting impact of racist tropes and stereotypes in Hollywood films.

Other conversations will delve into systemic changes that need to happen in casting, screenwriting, producing, directing and financing of films. 

Streamed films will be eligible for 2021 Oscars
Streamed films will be eligible for 2021 Oscars