In an effort to make reparations for its notoriously non-inclusive past, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced an initiative to expand representation within the industry and among members. Via its website, the Academy has outlined fresh plans for change in order to help support inclusion in entertainment.
The plans include gathering a task force of industry leaders aiming to develop inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility. In a statement released on the Academy website, Academy CEO Dawn Hudson states “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, [...] 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.”
Academy President David Rubin also noted “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 recognize how much more needs to be done, and we must listen, learn, embrace the challenge, and hold ourselves and our community accountable,”
The Academy is looking to promote equity among its members, among other planned initiatives. They have plans to hold mandatory unconscious bias training for all Academy governors, branch executive committee members and staff. The Academy will also host a series of panels under the name “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us,” which will aim to focus on issues of race, ethnicity, history, opportunity, and the art of filmmaking. Stating that through these panels, "The Academy will present conversations on the systemic changes that need to occur in areas such as casting, screenwriting, producing, directing, financing and greenlighting of movies in order to afford opportunities to women and people of color and to help create a new narrative for recovery."
Five years after the trending and reoccurring hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created by activist April Reign in January 2015, it is a relief to finally see a shift in perspective, albeit an extremely late and timely one, given the current events surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement. We're hoping this latest announcement of reform is a sustainable one and hope for a more equitable and inclusive future for the film industry.