Film Forward

Academy Awards To Make Aggressive Push For Diverse Membership And Board

Time to break up that 50-plus white male group.

In recent years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has increasingly come under fire for essentially being a party full of old white dudes. A Los Angeles Times survey from 2013 found that Academy voters were 93% white and 76% male, and those figures haven't changed much in the short time since. That's likely why the organization will extend invitations to new members, aggressively seeking individuals who expand the AMPAS demo.

Voting for new board members has already begun (the period runs from June 24 to July 2), and candidates are said to include a strong mix of gender and racial diversity. Directors Ava DuVernay (Selma) and Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right) are on the list, as well as cinematographers Guillermo Navaro and Daryn Okada, actress Amy Madigan and producer Kathleen Kennedy.

The Academy never makes public its complete list of board candidates, but it does send the names of candidates within each branch to every member of that branch. There are 17 branches, each with three representatives on the board. Those representatives serve three-year terms with rotating candidacy. As for memberships, the Academy used to extend an average of roughly 130 new invitations every year, but in 2013 it doubled that number in an effort to add "new voices."

It's a complicated system, but the message is clear: Hollywood's most elite class of film voters needs to change its demographics and quickly. This is a good step in the right direction.

Cover image: Wikimedia


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