Photo: Oscars Statuette
Oscars diversity guarantee means the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a new precedent in efforts to further promote diversity and inclusion within the filmmaking industry and its subsequent Oscar nominees. In a statement released on June 12, the Academy discussed the “next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative”, titled “Academy Aperture 2025”. The initiative plans to “further the Academy’s ongoing efforts to advance inclusion in the entertainment industry and increase representation within its membership and the greater film community.”
“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
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The Oscars diversity initiative comes as the entertainment industry’s response following the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that have led to renewed criticism over a lack of diverse representation in several industries. The entertainment industry itself has been notorious for this, especially with the Academy members historically being dominated by older white men, leading to an imminent exclusion of non-white nominees.
The Oscars Diversity Initiative
As per the statement, a new task force is being developed that will outline a plan to develop representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility which prioritizes Oscars diversity, set to be released on July 31, 2020. This will be done in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America, who will work alongside industry leaders appointed by Academy President David Rubin. The first phase of the initiative details specific goals for Oscars eligibility as well as Academy governance and membership.
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The Best Picture category has been set to 10 nominees as opposed to fluctuating between five and 10, which has occurred since 2010. The goal behind this decision was to ensure that a wide variety of diverse films can continue to be nominated, especially following the big win of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasitethis past February which showed that the Oscars diversity makes the awards show better.
A lifetime maximum of 12 years on the Board of Governors was additionally set as part of the initiative, which will ensure a cycle of fresh faces as the landscape of the industry hopefully continues to become more and more diverse. Previously, there was no limit to the number of terms a governor could serve on the board, but this was recently amended in the bylaws.
In addition, all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and staff will be required to attend a mandatory unconscious bias training to promote Oscars diversity that the current Board of Governors underwent this past January. An upcoming series of panels hosted by the Academy titled “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” will present conversations about race, opportunity, and the “systemic changes that need to occur in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color and to help create a new narrative for recovery.”
One of these dialogues will be hosted by recently re-elected Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg, where she will discuss the effects of racist tropes and stereotypes in films that hurt Oscars diversity. Last week, she along with director Ava DuVernay were among a record number of women and people of color to be elected to the Board of Governors, solidifying a new record of 26 women and 12 people of color on the 54-person board.
This combination of efforts will seek to ensure a stronger awareness in regards to institutionalized inequality within the organization and the industry and to further acknowledge the importance of diversity and representation. While the changes will not impact 2021’s upcoming 93rd Academy Awards, they will go into effect for the 94th Academy Awards.
Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase who has CONSTANTLY spoken up for permanent diversity within the Academy Awards and entertainment industry reaffirms, “The goal of increased diversity and inclusivity has to succeed – for the sake of art, cinema and creativity. The creative field must be a safe space for all. The topic of diversity and inclusion cannot begin and end during the Oscars, BAFTAs or Golden Globes. We have got to start talking, tweeting and taking action towards inclusivity and diversity long before Oscars or awards season has begun. THAT is why I appreciate the Academy’s initiative to start this conversation long before awards season. Imagine having a coloring book (canvas of cinema) and a palette of colors to choose from (diversity in everything from genders to sexuality, races to ethnicities, religions to politics, cultures to languages, etc.) and then being told you can only use 5% of it. Would you be calm or angry? The child me would be halfway into the second act of my tantrum by this point. Speaking up matters. Striving for better matters. We, humans, are aspirational beings. Now I and all of us wait to see how the Academy actions this initiative for constant and permanent betterment in regards to the Oscars.”
#Oscarssowhite outcry showed the lack of Oscars diversity
The “Aperture 2025” initiative follows the success of the Academy’s A2020 initiative, which was put into place following the backlash of the 2015 and 2016 ceremonies’ all-white acting nominees, which prompted the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. A2020, created after that controversy, sought to double the number of women and people of color among the Academy’s membership in order to obtain a more diverse membership to in turn impact nominations. In 2015, only 8 percent of members were people of color and 25 percent were women, while last year the Academy announced that the membership now includes a composition of 16 percent people of color and 32 percent women.
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“Through the dedication, focus, and concerted effort of our Board of Governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed the goals of our A2020 initiative,” said Academy President David Rubin. But to truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable. Academy leadership and our Board are committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”
2021 Oscars Postponed
The news of the new equity and inclusion standards came prior to the announcement that next year’s 93rd Academy Awards ceremony will be pushed back to April instead of the previously-set date in February, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new date of April 25, 2021 was agreed upon by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network during a Zoom meeting on Monday, June 15. This is the latest date of the ceremony in its history.
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“For over a century, movies have played an important role in comforting, inspiring, and entertaining us during the darkest of times. They certainly have this year. Our hope, in extending the eligibility period and our Awards date, is to provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control,” said Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement.
Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment agreed with their sentiments. “We find ourselves in uncharted territory this year and will continue to work with our partners at the Academy to ensure next year’s show is a safe and celebratory event that also captures the excitement of the opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.”
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The date for the Oscars eligibility period has also shifted as a result of this announcement. Now, feature films will be eligible for nominations up until February 28, the original date of the ceremony, as opposed to the standard deadline of December 31. This new timeline will leave room for prospective films to be finished and released during months that are typically devoid of Oscar contenders, as big releases typically take place at the end of the year.
“During this time, it has become necessary to make exceptional changes to the Academy’s standard annual awards schedule” read the statement about the postponement. “The intent going forward is to ultimately return to awarding excellence for films released in the January-December calendar year.”
Click here to read Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Black Lives Matter, in which he tackles more than just police reform, press freedom and more – click here.
An excerpt from the love letter: Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “Hollywood Insider fully supports the much-needed Black Lives Matter movement. We are actively, physically and digitally a part of this global movement. We will continue reporting on this major issue of police brutality and legal murders of Black people to hold the system accountable. We will continue reporting on this major issue with kindness and respect to all Black people, as each and every one of them are seen and heard. Just a reminder, that the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just police brutality and extends into banking, housing, education, medical, infrastructure, etc. We have the space and time for all your stories. We believe in peaceful/non-violent protests and I would like to request the rest of media to focus on 95% of the protests that are peaceful and working effectively with positive changes happening daily. Media has a responsibility to better the world and Hollywood Insider will continue to do so.”
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