Here's what the Academy is doing to combat the Oscars diversity problem

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

In an effort to double the number of female and minority members by 2020, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced “sweeping” changes to its membership rules on Friday.

Why now?

The announcement follows widespread criticism of 2016’s Oscar nominations - the second year in a row that no people of colour were nominated for the best actor or actress award.

The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite has been trending worldwide and stars such as Will Smith and Spike Lee are boycotting the ceremony.

Isn’t the problem with the film industry, not the Academy?

A recent survey by the Los Angeles Times found that of the 6,028 Academy Award voters, 94 per cent are white and 76 per cent are men. The average age of members is 63.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement:

The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.

What is the biggest new measure?

Previously, Academy members had lifetime voting rights but this has been reduced to 10 years.

• This will be renewed if a member stays active in the industry during that decade.

• Lifetime rights will be earned if a member serves three ten-year terms or if they’ve won or been nominated for an Academy Award.

• Those who don’t qualify for ‘Active’ status will be moved to ‘Emeritus’ status, meaning they can’t vote.

What else will they do?

• Launch a campaign for new members “who represent greater diversity”

• Establish three new Governors, who will be nominated by the President

• Add new members (who are not Governors) to its executive and board committees, where key decisions about membership and governance are made

Will this affect the 2016 Oscars?

No, these new measures come too late to change anything this year's ceremony, which will take place on 28 February.

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