The president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences responded to the increasing criticism of the Oscar nominations with the promise to take steps to diversify the institution’s membership. “We must do more, and we must do it faster,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs wrote on Monday.
Well, the Academy has done just that. On Friday afternoon, it pledged to double the number of female and minority members by 2020. She also sent a memo to the members announcing changes in their status. “The Academy will take the lead, not wait for industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said in a statement. “These new leadership and voting measures will have an immediate impact and begin the process of a significant change in our membership composition,” Boone Isaacs said in a statement.
Just received from @TheAcademy. A good step in a long and complicated journey for people of colored artists. pic.twitter.com/CDB3ro2E4Q
– Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 22, 2016
In June, the Academy added 322 new members to diversify, but after the announcement of this year’s candidates in early January, it quickly became clear that more needed to be done. For the second year in a row, all of the nominated actors were white, and critically acclaimed, predominantly black films such as Creed, Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton were excluded from the Best Film discussion, even though only eight of the ten available spots in the category were filled.
Several Hollywood celebrities have spoken out about the need for change, and stars such as Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have announced that they will boycott the Academy Awards ceremony on February 28.