Jun 13, 2020 - Economy & Business

Films vying for Oscars must meet diversity qualifications, Academy says

An Oscars statue is displayed on the red carpet area on the eve of the 92nd Oscars ceremony.
Photo: MARK RALSTON / Getty Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Friday that it is working to ensure that films eligible for Oscars meet an array of diversity and inclusion requirements.

Why it matters: The move marks a major step toward making Hollywood accountable for diverse representation among its ranks.

The big picture: The Academy for years has been criticized for being too male and too white. In the past few years, it has added dozens of new faces to its roster and pushed to include more diverse films for consideration.

  • Beginning in 2015, critics of the film industry's establishment culture took to social media, using the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to pressure the industry to elevate more minorities in Hollywood.

Details:

  • Over the next five years, the Academy plans to encourage equitable hiring practices, working with the Producers Guild of America to develop a task force of industry leaders that will focus on diversity and inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility starting July 31.
    • Eligibility for the 93rd Academy Awards (2020) will not be effected.
  • The Academy will implement a quarterly viewing system through its streaming site for its members, starting with the 94th annual Awards. By making it possible for members to view films year-round, the Academy hopes to expand each film’s exposure.
  • Yearly unconscious bias training will be mandatory for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and Academy staff moving forward.
  • The Academy plans to host panels for members and the public, with conversations covering race, ethnicity, history, opportunity and filmmaking. The Academy will also hold conversations on systemic changes in areas including casting, screenwriting, producing, directing and financing in film to best afford opportunities to women and people of color.

What they're saying: “The need to address this issue is urgent," Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said. "To that end, we will amend—and continue to examine—our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”

Be smart: Hollywood, like every other industry, is currently grappling with the death of George Floyd. Many of the top films and TV shows in demand in the U.S. right now center around race.

  • Demand for "Dear White People" and "When They See Us" has skyrocketed among Americans amid nationwide protests, according to data from Parrot Analytics.

The bottom line: This could mark a new era in Hollywood that meaningfully welcomes diversity for the first time.

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