The Oscars unveil a new diversity program
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
After not quite acknowledging a diversity problem and confronted with the hashtag #oscasrssowhite, the Academy recently unveiled a new diversity initiative with the intention of not only reforming how movies are recognized but also taking into account who’s hired to make them.
Beginning in 2024, films hoping to qualify for the best picture category will have to meet inclusion standards both above and below the line. Two out of four benchmarks must be met: representation onscreen, creative leadership, paid apprenticeships and diverse backgrounds in the marketing and distribution positions.
For representation onscreen, at least one lead or prominent supporting role must be a BIPOC actor or, alternatively, feature two groups and totaling 30% of actor roles consisting of persons that are L.G.B.T.Q, differently-abled, women or from an underrepresented ethnic group.
In 2022, the best picture applicants will have to submit an "Academy inclusion standard form" to be considered. As the New York Times wrote, "a baby step, if you will, to get the industry thinking more about inclusion."
Our thoughts? Does Hollywood really need four years to get their ducks in a row and ease into inclusion? 2024 seems like a long time to wait for diversity standards and "baby steps" give the appearance of coddling a fragile 81% white Academy - and it certainly gives time to the establishment to stay on top.
Producers can spend tens of millions of dollars on Oscar campaigns, not only for the "Oscar bump" that boosts the box office and streaming take but it guarantees prestige, brand recognition and retains high-draw performers.
If the inclusion standards for the next Oscars were to recognize a picture already implementing inclusion before dangling the carrot of a Best Picture Oscar, that would recognize those truly deserving of it. We welcome the measures, but now is the time to insist upon inclusion into every corner if our industry. The producers with an already diverse cast and crew would benefit in countless ways and make room for them to raise their profile as bonafide players in the field.
Apprenticeships are wonderful opportunities, but let's not forget there are plenty of seasoned BIPOC professionals that can easily assume key roles.
Film in Colour (outside NYC)
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