Academy Awards diversify


By Abby Carella, Multimedia Editor

A few months back, I wrote a story about the lack of diversity regarding women and people of color in the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars, but not to be confused with the Golden Globes). The academy has received criticism for their lack of inclusion and this June, responded with the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, in which their plans to diversify nominees and the company in general were shared.

With this new initiative, the academy hopes to “broaden the lens through which (they) see excellence.” As part of the proposal, the academy will set a limit of 10 nominees in the Best Picture category starting with the 94th awards in 2021. The academy also plans to begin a quarterly viewing process of films for their members, which will equal out the playing ground by ensuring that all films are viewed by the voters. Bias training will become mandatory for all academy staff and will also be provided optionally for members. A series of panels called “Academy Dialogue: It Starts with Us” will be held “for members and the public, with conversations about race, ethnicity, history, opportunity and the art of filmmaking.” To help guide these plans, the academy has pledged to hire an office of representation, inclusion and equity.

Despite these new plans, many people felt enough was not being done. With the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum in the last few months, more and more people began to call out the academy. On Sept. 8, the academy announced a new set of guidelines. 

These guidelines, which the academy states are an addition to their 2025 initiative, outline specific representation and inclusion standards that movies in the Best Picture category must meet in order to be nominated. 

To be eligible for the Best Picture nomination, a film must meet at least two of the four new announced standards. The academy will start requiring these standards by 2024 for the 96th awards ceremony.

Standard A and B have multiple criteria and both focus on the four main underrepresented groups including women, racial groups, LGBTQ+ and people with disabilities. For a film to meet one of these standards, at least one criteria must be met. Various things could be done to meet these standards, such as having 30% of all actors in a film be from one of the representation groups or having the main story line be focused on one of the groups. For more detail, visit the official Academy Award website. 

To achieve standards C or D, all criteria must be met. If a film wants to meet Standard C, they must have at least 2 paid internships and offer training for people from the four representation groups mentioned previously. To meet Standard D, the studio or film company must have multiple senior executives on their marketing, publicity or distribution teams from the four groups (must include racial groups). 

As of right now, all other categories (such as Best Actor) at the Academy Awards will maintain their current eligibility requirements. The new requirements for Best Picture however, have spurred a spectrum of differing opinions from the public. Some people feel that the criteria is too much and too forced while others think the criteria is not specific enough. Many people were also hoping that there would be requirements for the other nomination categories. I think these new standards are a great step in the right direction. However, production companies need to make sure that they are not being performative by just adding diversity in order to receive nominations and look good. They need to add roles and jobs that are both diverse and meaningful. While these new rules do not roll out for a few years, it will be interesting to see how everything turns out.

Best Picture Nominees through the Years

Abby Carella can be reached at [email protected]