The Academy diversifies

It’s been a rough week for the Oscars. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith lashed out on the lack of black talent featuring in this year’s list of nominations. That uproar went global and several other big names put through their weight behind the lack of representation, and also threatened to boycott next month’s ceremony.

Now the Academy is actively striving to change the way in which the prestigious ceremony will roll out in the years to come. A statement was issued late last night, depicting how the Oscars will strive to be more representative and diversify. This is a great move, I just don’t like the term. It feels like it still ‘others’ unnescessarily but those are semantics I guess. Read the full statement below:

In a unanimous vote Thursday night (1/21), the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved a sweeping series of substantive changes designed to make the Academy’s membership, its governing bodies, and its voting members significantly more diverse. The Board’s goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020.

“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.”

Beginning later this year, each new member’s voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year’s Oscars.

At the same time, the Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.

In order to immediately increase diversity on the Board of Governors, the Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.

The Academy will also take immediate action to increase diversity by adding new members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made. This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders.

Along with Boone Isaacs, the Board’s Membership and Administration Committee, chaired by Academy Governor Phil Robinson, led the efforts to enact these initiatives.

Aunt Viv has some harsh words for the Fresh Prince and his queen

Sjoe, Aunt Vivian aka Janet Hubert from the hit show Fresh Prince of Bel Air has some harsh words for her former co-star Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. This as Jada called for people of colour to boycott the Oscars, for not being very diverse in their nominations. Will has obviously garnered a lot of attention for his role in his new film, Concussion, but he and other black actors and actresses were visibly absent from the list of nominations for film’s big night. Now Aunt Viv is lashing out at the two saying they’re both part of the Hollywood machine, they’ve earned millions of dollars and there are bigger problems in the world to worry about. Watch the clip below:

Here’s what The Academy President, Cheryl Boone Isaacs had to say on the matter:

I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees.  While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. 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.

As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like.  We need to do more, and better and more quickly.

SEE ALL THE NOMINEES HERE

This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.

What do you make of this? Are the #OscarsSoWhite or is this just a case of sour grapes from the Smiths?