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Film academy announced reforms to diversify

8 months 4 weeks 2 days ago January 22, 2016 Jan 22, 2016 Friday, January 22 2016 January 22, 2016 2:37 PM in News
Source: Associated Press
By: Sandy Cohen

BEVERLY HILLS - The film academy is pledging to double the number of female and minority members by 2020, and will immediately diversify its leadership by adding three new seats to its board of governors.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the changes Friday, following a weeklong storm of criticism and calls for an Oscar boycott after academy members nominated an all-white slate of actors for the second year in a row.

Isaacs said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday to "begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."

Other changes include limiting members' voting status to a period of 10 years, to be extended only if the individual remains active in film during that decade. Lifetime voting rights will be granted only to Academy Award nominees and winners, and to members after three 10-year voting terms. Previously, all active members received lifetime voting rights.

In a statement, the Academy president says that changes to membership will have "an immediate impact."

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," Isaacs said. "These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."

The changes come in response to a diversity crisis that erupted for the second time in two years after this year's Oscars acting nominees were all white.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had no immediate reaction to the Film Academy's reforms announced Friday.

Both had pledged not to attend the Oscars this year. Idris Elba, who was not nominated for his role in Netflix' critically acclaimed "Beasts of No Nation," also had no immediate response.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, whose 'Selma' was nominated for best picture last year but not for lead actor David Oyelowo, quickly responded via Twitter.

"(O)ne good step in a long complicated journey for people of color and women artists," she wrote.

Cameron Bailey, artist director of the Toronto International Film Festival, called it "impressive, bold action" and tweeted, "studio's you're next."

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