Facing Continued Criticism, Film Academy Looks to Increase Diversity

Awards season has become about something altogether separate from gold statues this year: the general lack of diversity in Hollywood, as well as the complete absence of people of color from the best acting categories of the Academy Awards.  Talk of all this started with the announcement of this year’s nominees, and it’s only intensified since, gaining steam with every new actor who boycotts the ceremony. (Jada Pinkett Smith’s husband, Will, has since joined her in her boycott, saying that “Diversity is America’s super power.”) After years of this recurring controversy, the Film Academy seems to finally be addressing it as a problem that demands fixing. 

According to the New York Times, the Academy is expected to announce changes to the voting process and/or the specifications of categories — the amount of nominees allowed in acting categories, for example — but it’s all speculation for now. The Academy does seem to be taking this seriously, though, as the Academy’s president Cheryl Boone Isaacs released a statement on Monday that makes the Academy’s stance clear:

The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership. In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.

The Times story also reports that there’s a strong push within the group to prevent members from voting if they’ve not been active in the film industry for a decade or two, supposedly to weed out the older folks who might not have the most progressive — or inclusive — ideas of film, or in general.

The Academy Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, February 28 at 7 p.m.