Oscars 2019 stage 1 c Matt Petit AMPAS

Source: Matt Petit/AMPAS

Oscars 2019 stage

The Academy has pledged to step up its diversity and inclusion mandate in a raft of announcements that, among other commitments, sets the number of best picture nominees at 10 each year starting with the 94th Academy Awards in 2022.

There was no announcement on Friday (June 12) about a possible postponement of the 93rd Oscars, currently set at February 28, 2021.

In the wake of the George Floyd killing and ongoing protests across the US against police brutality, the Academy said the next phase of the body’s equity and inclusion initiative to increase representation within membership and the greater film community is called Academy Aperture 2025.

Academy president David Rubin said the organisation had surpassed the goals of its A2020 initiative. Screen has asked for verification of the numbers and representatives said they will be unveiled when the Academy announces the new membership class in a few weeks.

The first phase of Academy Aperture 2025 outlines specific goals for the Oscars and Academy governance, membership, and workplace culture.

Equitable hiring practices

The Academy will encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off screen. In collaboration with the Producers Guild of America (PGA) the body will create a task force of industry leaders appointed by Rubin and including A2020 committee chair DeVon Franklin, to develop representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31 this year. Eligibility for films in consideration for the 93rd Academy Awards will not be impacted.

The Academy will implement a quarterly viewing process through streaming site the Academy Screening Room, starting with the 94th Academy Awards, to allow members to view films released year-round and broaden each film’s exposure.

“Unconscious bias training”, which started with the governors last January, will become mandatory for all governors, branch executive committee members and Academy staff on an annual basis. All 9,000+ members will be offered an opportunity to participate.

Governor term limits

The board of governors has amended rules to enact maximum governor term limits. Once the amendment takes effect, governors will be allowed to serve on the board for up to two three-year terms (consecutive or non-consecutive), followed by a two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms, for a lifetime maximum of 12 years. The previous limit was three consecutive three-year terms, with a one-year hiatus, and no lifetime maximum.

These term limits affect newly elected governors starting with the 2020-2021 board term, as well as sitting governors returning for 2020-2021 in their first or second term. Returning governors in their third term during 2020-2021 will be allowed to complete their nine-year service, before an obligatory two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for one additional and final three-year term, for a maximum of 12 years.

Governors who have already served multiple terms exceeding 12 years will be limited to one additional term. Branch executive committees will also have a term limit of six years and a two-year hiatus, with a maximum of 12 years.

Earlier this week the Academy board increased the number of female governors from 25 to 26, and people of colour from 11 to 12, including the three governors-at-large. There are now six black governors on the board, three of whom were newly elected or re-elected.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay is one of the new governors, the others being casting director Debra Zane, editor Stephen Rivkin, make-up artist Linda Flowers, producer Lynette Howell Taylor, and ILM head Rob Bredow from the visual effects branch.

”Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” panels

The Academy will host a series of panels called “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” for members and the public, with conversations about race, ethnicity, history, opportunity, and the art of filmmaking. Programmes will include a conversation hosted by Academy governor Whoopi Goldberg on the lasting impact of racist tropes and harmful stereotypes in Hollywood films. The Academy will also present conversations on the systemic changes that need to occur to afford opportunities to women and people of colour.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will create spaces that highlight and prioritise the experience of traditionally underrepresented or marginalised people through its business practices, exhibitions, screenings, programmes, initiatives, and collections.

The museum will work in active partnership with the recently expanded Inclusion Advisory Committee, comprising more than 20 filmmakers and executives, to champion the work of diverse artists, and expose historical omissions.

Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity

The Academy will establish an Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity to oversee the Aperture 2025 initiative and work with governors, Academy staff and experts to ensure best practices and accountability. The office will be led by Academy COO Christine Simmons, in partnership with Lorenza Muñoz, managing director, member relations and awards, who will continue to oversee external-facing membership and awards initiatives and global outreach.

All Academy, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive and Academy Museum staff will have access to newly created Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond.

Aperture 2025 is an ongoing initiative with multiple phases and programmes to address institutionalised inequity within the organisation and the industry. The Academy noted its efforts in this area to date, referencing the Academy Grants Programme, industry talent development, diversity and inclusion initiative Academy Gold, Action: The Academy Women’s Initiative, Academy Gold Fellowship for Women, Academy International Inclusion Initiative, Student Academy Awards, and Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

“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.”

“Through the dedication, focus, and concerted effort of our board of governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed the goals of our A2020 initiative. But to truly meet this moment, we must recognise how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,” said Rubin. “Academy leadership and our board are committed to ensuring that we continue to weave equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”