The Academy have pledged to double the number of female and minority members in a move to make the Oscars more diverse.
The BBC report that Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the planned changes following backlash over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations.
Three new seats will be added to the Academy’s board of governors to improve diversity in leadership and (in a surprising move) voting rights will be stripped from those who have not been active in the industry over the last ten years.
In a statement Ms Isaacs said:
The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up… These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.
The Oscars sparked controversy earlier this month with another all-white line-up in the four acting categories which prompted director Spike Lee, actor Will Smith and his Wife Jada Plinkett Smith to announce they would not be attending next month’s awards.
Speaking at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the actor Don Cheadle said he applauded the Academy’s attempts to do something about an issue that has threatened to overshadow this year’s ceremony saying, it was a ‘step in the right direction’.
Selma director Ava DuVernay – who was controversially omitted from last year’s best director shortlist – said the move was motivated by ’shame’. She said: ‘Marginalised artists have advocated for Academy change for DECADES’, claiming their earlier calls had been met with ‘deaf ears [and] closed minds.’
Spike Lee also expressed qualified support for the new measures describing them as ‘a start’, although he continued: ‘I commend the Academy for what they’ve done,’ while pledging that he would still not be attend the ceremony.
A number of actors have come out in support of the Academy including Dustin Hoffman, Sir Michael Caine and Dame Joan Collins, who turned to Twitter to express her displeasure at Lee’s description of the Oscars as a ‘lilly white’ [sic] event.
I'm a voting Oscar member I nominated IdrisElba for great performance in 'Beasts ONNso I resent members being called Lilywhite#wrong
— Joan Collins (@Joancollinsdbe) January 23, 2016
I’m a voting Oscar member [and] I nominated Idris Elba for [his] great performance in Beasts [of No Nation], so I resent members being called Lilywhite#wrong.
The awards are scheduled to take place February 28 2016.