Oscars announce new diversity and inclusion plans

The academy is still trying to get past its #OscarsSoWhite problem. On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscar statues, unveiled the “next phase” of its program to boost the representation of women and people of color in the entertainment industry and the annual awards.

The plan, titled Academy Aperture 2025, will “encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on- and off-screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the film community,” the academy said via Twitter. The move comes in the wake of a long-simmering controversy about a lack of diversity in Hollywood.

In collaboration with the Producers Guild of America, the academy will create an industry leaders task force “to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility,” starting with 2021-eligible films and the 2022 Oscars broadcast. Films up for the 93rd Academy Awards trophies, due to be handed out in February 2021, will not be affected.

The new edicts also include setting the number of Best Picture nominees at 10, rather than fluctuating the number every year, as well as allowing academy members to screen eligible films quarterly, rather than cramming screenings into one brief period toward year’s end. The latter change will “broaden each film’s exposure, level the playing field and ensure all eligible films can be seen by voting members,” the organization said.

“While the academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”

The move comes after 1939’s “Gone With the Wind,” for which, Hattie McDaniel became the first black actress to win an Oscar, was temporarily pulled from HBO Max over “racist depictions.”

Academy President David Rubin said that the organization “must recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” adding that its leaders are “committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every academy initiative, committee, program and event.”

Other initiatives include a series of panels for members and the public, titled “Academy Dialogue: It Starts With Us,” looking at race and ethnicity issues in filmmaking, including a program with academy governor and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg on racist tropes and stereotypes in film. The academy also will establish an Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity to look at industry best practices and accountability.

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