Skip links

Oscars get a symbolic makeover

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences suffered embarrassment in 2015 when #OscarsSoWhite started trending on social media. April Reign, the activist who started the hashtag, noted at the time that the academy’s membership was 92 percent white and 75 percent male. The controversy went from bad to worse when the list of 2016 nominees for the Academy Awards had less ethnic diversity than the 2015 slate.

In response to the criticism, the film trade association announced over the summer it had inducted 819 new members, doubling the number of women and people from underrepresented ethnic groups. A more diverse group of nominators could result in a more diverse group of nominees, but the academy also decided to change the selection criteria for best picture.

Previously, best picture contenders had to be at least 40 minutes long and shown on a certain number of screens in a certain timeframe during the year. Starting in 2024, a film must also meet at least two of four new diversity standards to be considered for the Oscars’ top prize.

The first criteria, or standard A, requires a film to have a lead actor of nonwhite ethnicity or an ensemble cast with at least 30 percent of its members from two or more of the following groups: women, LBGT individuals, or people with a disability. The movie could also have a storyline that focused on one of those groups.

To fulfill standard B, a film must have a certain level of diversity in its creative leadership. Standard C asks whether a studio offers paid internships to underrepresented groups, and standard D promotes diversity in marketing and distribution.

For all the fanfare, the criteria won’t require sweeping changes of the film industry. Major studios can easily meet standards C and D. Vanity Fair noted all of the best picture nominees in the last 15 years have satisfied either A or B.

“Without even mandating it, the industry is going toward diversity,” said Andrei Constantinescu, who owns a casting company in Dallas.

Read more at World Magazine

Share with Friends: