Oscars racism row: Academy pledges to double female and minority members by 2020

The announcement comes amid controversy over the lack of diversity within the industry

The organisers of the Oscars have pledged to double the number of female and minority members, amid mounting controversy about the lack of diversity within the industry - a row sparked by the absence of any non-white actors in this year’s nominations.

In an announcement on Friday afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said its 51-member board of governors had unanimously approved a series of reforms late on Thursday.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the process would “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition”. It will diversify its leadership by adding three new seats to its board of governors.

The move comes after a storm of criticism that blew up after academy members nominated an all-white list of actors and actresses for the second year in a row.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” said Ms Boone. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.

The number of minorities currently serving as members of the academy has not been revealed.

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Lee was awarded an honourary Oscar in October

The Associated Press said that other change will include limiting members’ voting status to a period of 10 years, to be extended only if the individual remains active in film during that decade. 

Lifetime voting rights will be granted only to Academy Award nominees and winners, and to members after three ten-year voting terms. Previously, all active members received lifetime voting rights. 

Since this year’s nominations were announced, the Academy has been fighting off criticism from many fronts, with figures from Spike Lee to George Clooney condemning the lack of diversity within the industry.

Several black actors, among them Will Smith, who failed to secure a nomination for his role in concussion, have said they will boycott this year’s event, due to be held on February 28. Filmmaker Michael Moore has also said he will not attend.

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