Entertainment & Arts

Academy to double female and minority members by 2020

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs speaks at the Oscars Foreign Language Film Award Reception, 20 February 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the Academy should be leading the way in improving diversity in the film industry

The organisers of the Oscars have pledged to double the number of female and minority members of the Academy by 2020.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the changes following a backlash over the lack of diversity in this year's nominations.

Three new seats will be added to the Academy's board of governors to improve diversity in leadership.

Several top industry figures have said they will not attend the Oscars.

Actor Will Smith and director Spike Lee are among those to announce they will not be going to February's Academy Awards, after it emerged no black or minority actors had been nominated in the four Oscars acting categories for the second year running.

Meanwhile Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling has called a boycott "racist against white people".

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith were the first to announce they would not attend the ceremony

Oscars head Boone Isaacs said the new measures announced on Friday would "begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition".

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," she said in a statement.

Nominees are chosen by more than 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a group which is itself overwhelmingly white, male and over 50, reports the BBC's Los Angeles Correspondent James Cook.

Boone Isaacs has previously promised to review the membership to improve inclusion on the basis of "gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation".

Analysis: BBC's James Cook, Hollywood

Critical judgment is by its nature subjective - but facts are stubborn.

Audiences and actors will argue until the cowboys come home about whether or not a particular performer deserved a glistening gold trophy.

What is not in doubt is that the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not reflect American society, let alone the wider world. Analysis of its membership reveals that the vast majority are white, male and over the age of 50.

The Academy's first black president Cheryl Boone Isaacs is determined to change that. Many here in Hollywood have been surprised by how quickly she is turning that determination into action.

She has spoken eloquently of her heartbreak about the scandal but there are other factors at play too: money and reputation.

Television rights for the Oscars are lucrative for the Academy, and a widespread boycott of the broadcast could have been damaging.

So, one subjective judgment might be that the Academy's response to the #OscarsSoWhite scandal is about self-interest as well as principle.

Under the new rules, the Academy will strip voting rights from those who have not been active in the industry for the past decade. Only its longest-serving members and those who have previously been nominated for an Oscar will still be able to vote.

The Academy says it will also launch a recruiting drive to identity members who represent "greater diversity".

The changes will not affect the voting for the winners of this year's Oscars.


Comedian Chris Rock is facing calls to withdraw from his role as host of this year's ceremony as the row intensifies.

It comes after a slew of actors backed Lee's announcement that he could not support the "lily white" awards show on Tuesday.

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Media captionActor Dustin Hoffman says the Oscar nominations are an example of "subliminal racism"
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Media captionDirector Steve McQueen: "It's about executives... giving those storylines and those actors a fair bite"

Confirming he would be joining his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, in not attending, Will Smith said: "We're uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is OK."

Oscar-winners George Clooney and Lupita Nyong'o are also among those who have expressed disappointment over the nominations.

But British actress Charlotte Rampling, who is up for best actress for her role in 45 Years, has dismissed the criticism over a lack of black and minority actors being shortlisted.

She told France's Europe 1: "We can never know... But maybe it's because no black actors merited being nominated."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Many believe Rampling's outspoken comments could damage her Oscar chances

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