Entertainment & Arts

How to become an Academy member

Leonardo DiCaprio Image copyright EPA
Image caption Oscar nominees do not require sponsors

Oscars head Cheryl Boone Isaacs is taking action to "alter the make-up" of their membership, after Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith's refusal to attend because of the mostly white nominees.

In an article, first published in 2012, the Los Angeles Times found Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male. Black members make up about 2% of the Academy, and Latino members less than 2%.

Oscar voters have a median age of 62 and people younger than age 50 constitute just 14% of the membership.

So just how do you become a member of the prestigious organisation?

Well, unsurprisingly, you have to work in the film industry.

The Academy has 17 branches, including actors, writers, directors and producers, and two categories, members-at-large and associates, to accommodate those who work in film production but do not fit into one of the branches.

Each branch has its own requirements that have to be met before you can be considered.

For example, actors have to have a minimum of three theatrical feature film credits, one of which has been released in the past five years, and "all of which are of a calibre that reflect the high standards of the Academy".

And all the roles have to be scripted (sorry, no walk-on parts).

'Exceptional achievement'

Directors need to have a minimum of two directorial credits, at least one of which is from the last 10 years and, again, the films have to be "of a calibre which, in the opinion of the executive committee, reflect the high standards of the Academy".

You can't apply to be a member - you have to be sponsored by two Academy members from the branch which you wish to join.

Potential sponsors are warned that "sponsoring a candidate for membership in the Academy is a serious commitment. Please make sure you are confident the candidate has truly 'demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures' before you agree to sponsor them".

But if you're an Academy Award nominee, you are automatically considered for membership and do not require sponsors.

Nominees and sponsored candidates are then reviewed by branch committees and recommendations for membership are considered by the Academy's board of governors.

The board ultimately decides who will be invited to join the elite group. Once you're in, you're in for life.

Membership review takes place once a year, in the spring. The current deadline is 24 March.

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