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#OscarsSoWhite Wins: Academy to Purge Old Members for ‘Diversity’

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The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has approved a series of “substantive changes” to its rules and organizational structure in an effort to boost the diversity of its membership as the group faces mounting criticism over a lack of minority actors among this year’s Academy Award nominees.

The AMPAS Board of Governors unanimously approved the new rules in a Thursday night vote, according to Deadline. The organization behind the Oscars aims to double the amount of minority and women members by 2020.

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The Academy will add three new members to its 51-member Board of Governors and will add new non-Board members to its executive and Board committees, in a move the organization said will “allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making.”

Additionally, Academy members will now receive voting status for ten years, a significant change from the current lifetime voting rights status afforded to members. Voters’ ten-year terms will be renewed if they are “active” in motion pictures within that decade, and members can achieve lifetime voting status after three consecutive ten-year terms have been completed.

The third key change involves the recruitment of new members: in addition to the standard recruitment method, in which current members sponsor new members, the Academy will launch an “ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.”

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who developed the rules alongside the Board’s membership committee, said in a statement. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

The Academy has faced a barrage of criticism since announcing its Oscar nominations last week; for a second consecutive year, all 20 acting nominees are white.

Countless celebrities have criticized the Academy over the lack of diversity, including George Clooney, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Dustin Hoffman, William H. Macy and Viola Davis. Filmmakers Spike Lee and Michael Moore have pledged to boycott the awards show, as have actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and rapper Snoop Dogg. The Rev. Al Sharpton has called on the public to “tune out” of the February 28 broadcast in protest.

Boone Isaacs had promised “big changes” in a statement issued several days after the diversity controversy began anew, saying she was “heartbroken and frustrated” over the lack of minority acting nominees.

The new rule changes will not affect the voting for this year’s Academy Awards, according to an email sent by Boone Isaacs to Academy members and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy first broke last year, the Academy invited 322 new members in its 2015 class — the largest new addition in the organization’s history — with the hopes of increasing the diversity of its voting body. The new members included Oyelowo and Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray.

In November, Boone Isaacs announced a new five-year Academy diversity initiative called A2020. It was not immediately clear if the rule changes announced Friday were implemented as part of that program.


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