The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite appeared in the lexicon in January 2015, after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave every last acting nomination to white creatives that year and the year before. Filmmakers and fans of color took notice. Director Spike Lee recently told the New York Times, "When Black Twitter gets on your Black ass … ooh, it ain’t no joke."
On September 8, the organization behind the prestigious film awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced new representation and inclusion standards for the Best Picture category eligibility, via the new Academy Aperture 2025 initiative.
Change starts now. We’ve announced new representation and inclusion standards for Best Picture eligibility, beginning with the 96th #Oscars. Read more here: https://t.co/qdxtlZIVKb pic.twitter.com/hR6c2jb5LM
rn— The Academy (@TheAcademy) September 9, 2020
According to the Oscars’ press release, Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s game-changing film “Parasite”—the first non-English language film to win Best Picture—forced its hand. “The moment marked the culmination of a five-year effort to diversify our organization and expand our definition of the ‘best,’” the Academy wrote.
Yet even after #OscarsSoWhite in 2016, the Academy wrote that they had set inclusion goals to "double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities" as part of its A2020 initiative, while also expanding its international membership.
Starting in 2024, the Academy will require films to meet specific eligibility criteria and will establish a trained task force of industry leaders to implement the new standards. As part of these changes, the Academy will require films to meet two of four requirements, such as casting 30 percent of the film with actors from an underrepresented group or making the lead or significant supporting role for someone who is non-white. For creatives working on the other side of the camera, the initiative requires studios to expand paid apprenticeships and internships for women and members from the LGBTQ+ or disability community, or racially ethnic group.
As it’s taken five years to reach this point with Hollywood, some people of color applaud the efforts, such as Reign, while others note their skepticism around who wins in "underrepresented" categories.
rn— April (@ReignOfApril) September 9, 2020
Women are considered a “diversity and inclusion” criterion in all but 2 categories which means this will overwhelmingly benefit white women. POC will still be limited and those with cognitive/physical disabilities will be all but erased. This fixes very little https://t.co/Og9yXkK758
rn— Allison Jackson (@allijacks330) September 9, 2020
For the complete list of requirements, visit the Academy here.