The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially responded to the #OscarsStillSoWhite backlash, which has led to stars like Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Spike Lee boycotting the event. According to a press release sent Friday, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted unanimously last night to implement a series of changes that will affect its membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members in an effort to diversify the organization. One goal: doubling the number of women and diverse members by 2020.
“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said 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.”
One of the more powerful amendments comes in the form of a change to the Academy’s lifetime voting rights. Beginning later this year, new members’ voting rights will last ten years and will only be renewed if said member has been an active participant in motion pictures over the course of that decade. Lifetime voting status will only be administered after three consecutive ten-year stints, or after a member has been nominated for or won an Oscar. The modification will also apply retroactively to all current members—if he or she has not been active in motion pictures over the last decade, they will be moved to emeritus status, meaning they will neither pay dues nor have the privilege of voting. Other changes on the horizon:
-A global sponsorship program designed recruit a group of qualified and diverse new members.
-Three new seats on the Board of Governors. New governors will be nominated by the Academy president and will serve three-year terms.
-Adding new members to the executive board and various board committees, all of which have a hand in determining membership and rules of governance.
Stay tuned for more updates.