In a surprise announcement Friday morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has overhauled its membership practices: narrowing members’ voting limits, ambitiously identifying and recruiting new members, and immediately establishing three new governor seats in an effort to increase diversity in its ranks. The move comes after the organization has been lambasted for failing to nominate any actors of color for a second consecutive year, and a Best Picture list that ignored many well reviewed, commercially successful films featuring multi-ethnic casts.
“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”
The Academy’s full statement can be read here.
Rather than grant a member lifetime voting rights, the Academy will now give each new member voting status for 10 years. That membership will be renewed if the member has been active in motion pictures in that decade. Members will receive lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms of if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. Members who fail to qualify for active status will be reclassified as emeritus members, and will not have an Oscar vote.
Changes will be effective after this year’s Oscar ceremony.
The Academy will also take immediate action to increase diversity by adding members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made.
Said the Academy, “This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.”
Director Ava DuVernay endorsed the changes, posting the letter that Academy members received on Twitter:
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) January 22, 2016