In a unanimous vote Thursday night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences‘ 51-member board of governors approved a sweeping series of changes designed to diversify its membership, the academy said in a statement Friday.
The board committed to doubling the number of women and minority members in the academy by 2020.
AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the plan Friday after many of Hollywood’s A-listers slammed the organization for their all-white award nominees. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement.
The board approved reforms late Thursday to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition,” Isaacs explained.
It also approved a series of changes limiting members’ lifetime voting rights. “Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade,” the academy statement said. “In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars. ”
The swift and drastic change comes in response to a protest over an all-white slate of acting nominees for the second year in a row.
The move follows pledges by director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to stay home from the Oscar telecast on Feb. 28, and calls for a boycott of the show online.
For the last three years, the awards body has been in the midst of a push for more diversity, inviting larger and demographically broader groups to join its 6,261 voting members. But given the size of the academy, and the fact that members belong for life, any change to the organization’s overall demographics had been incremental.
The academy will also launch a campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, the statement said, and will add new members who are not governors to its executive and board committees to influence key decisions about membership.