Amid Oscars Criticism, Academy Aims to Double Women and Diverse Members

PHOTO: The Oscar trophy at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards "Meet The Oscars" New York.PlayCharles Eshelman/FilmMagic
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is overhauling its membership policy following a controversy over the diversity of the top categories of the Oscars over the past two years.

The organization's board voted unanimously on Thursday night to take steps to make its membership, governing policies and voting members "significantly" more diverse, according to a press release.

The goal is to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020.

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

Starting this year, every new member will enjoy a voting status of 10 years, after which it will be renewed only if that person has stayed active in the industry. Academy members who have served three 10-year terms will receive lifetime voting rights, as will all Oscar nominees and winners. Those rules will be retroactively applied, though it will not affect this year's show.

Meanwhile, the Academy will launch "an ambitious, global campaign" to recruit new members, while at the same time, maintaining its traditional process of having current members sponsor new ones.

The Board of Governors is changing too. To immediately increase diversity there, three new governor seats will be nominated by Boone Isaacs and confirmed by the existing board. Going forward, new members who are not governors will be added to its executive and board committees to help make decisions about membership and governance.

"This will allow new members an opportunity to become more active in Academy decision-making and help the organization identify and nurture future leaders," the release stated.

After the Oscar nominees were announced last week, many stars spoke out about the lack of diversity, slamming the Academy itself for being too homogeneous. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith said they would not be attending this year's show, as did director Spike Lee.

“The nominations reflect the Academy. The Academy reflects the industry [Hollywood] and then the industry reflects America,” Will Smith said in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America." "There is a regressive slide towards separatism, towards racial and religious disharmony and that’s not the Hollywood that I want to leave behind."