The Academy Officially Changes Membership Policies To Increase Oscar Diversity

The response to this year's all-white Oscar nominations was loud and angry and it didn't die down quickly. Soon, Honorary Oscar recipient Spike Lee was boycotting the ceremony. Will Smith also announced that he would not be attending while current nominee Mark Ruffalo made his displeasure known. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement about the situation (which was dubbed #OscarsSoWhite online) and movie fans and industry insiders alike wondered if anything would actually change.

And now they have. In a new letter sent to Academy members, new policy has been implemented that will change the makeup of the Oscar voting body, with a goal of doubling "diverse" members by 2020. You can read the new Oscar rules below.

The new policies are two-pronged. On one end, 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."

The other new policy is bit more direct and will surely be the subject of controversy. Academy memberships, once permanent, will now require a member to be active in the film industry. Each member will earn ten years of membership upon induction and will earn another ten years if they continue to work in film. If a member qualifies for three ten-year terms, they are granted lifetime membership. Any Oscar winners or nominees are granted instant lifetime membership.

The first goal is obvious enough: recruit fresh, diverse voices who will help bring the Oscars into the 21st century with their unique voices and world views. The second looks to shake up the current makeup of the Academy itself, which is predominately white and full of people who have not been active in the industry for decades. In other words, the Academy is cleaning house – fresh blood comes in, while the more out-of-touch voters who have not worked in Hollywood for years, are slowly weeded out.

Mashable writer Josh Dickey shared the complete press release on Twitter:

And Selma director Ava DuVernay shared the shorter version, sent directly to Academy members:

Surely no one involved thinks this will fix everything. The film industry is still run by caucasian males and they'll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But this is a start. If Hollywood is going to grow up and get with the times, they can do worse than let their most prestigious organization lead the charge. What's the worst case scenario here? More women, more members of the LGBTQ community, and more voters from various ethnic backgrounds get to be involved in an industry that has always underserved them. As far as first steps go, this is a good one.