The Academy Takes A Step Towards Diversity and Representation At The Oscars

Entering the “next phase” of inclusion and equity.

For many industries and organizations around the world, now is the moment of reckoning. As the world continues to point out and address representation issues on screens and stages, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has declared what looks like a step forward from its history of poor diversity and representation: “the next phase of our equity and inclusion initiative.”

This “next phase” is alleged to incorporate changes to address representation issues among its own membership, along with changes to the Oscars eligibility rules. The Academy has already made an effort to address its ongoing issues with gender and race bias last year, increasing the diversity of its members by inviting industry moguls like Lady Gaga and Black Panther’s Letitia Wright to join the board. Despite these undertakings, the Best Director and Best Picture categories were still dominated by white male figures at the 2020 Oscars — though Bong Joon-ho’s groundbreaking wins ultimately made history at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony.

According to the announcement the Academy released on its website, “the Best Picture category will be set at 10 nominees, rather than a fluctuating number of nominations from year to year” starting with the 94th Academy Awards taking place in 2021. The Academy has also pledged to create a “task force of industry leaders” that will develop new standards of eligibility, allowing a more diverse array of films to compete for the golden statuette. The organization is also looking to make changes among its own members by making the unconscious bias training mandatory for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and staff on an annual basis.

Many board members — including the newly-appointed Ava DuVernay — say that “to truly meet this moment, we must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable.” The filmmaker was one of the celebrity figures who have taken to social media to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman shot and killed in her own home by Louisville Metro police officers back in March. Her death, along with that of George Floyd, has sparked worldwide protests in recent weeks, ultimately leading organizations across the board to examine and reconsider their commitment to anti-racism efforts.

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