After facing fierce criticism over a second consecutive year of all-white Oscar acting nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Friday that it would double its membership of women and minorities by 2020. In a statement, the organiser of the Oscars said that this would be achieved via radical changes to its governing structure, recruitment and voting requirements.
Reuters said the membership rule changes were among the most sweeping in the academy's 88-year-old history. However, the reforms will not affect voting for this year's awards. The announcement came amid a backlash over the absence of actors or filmmakers of colour in the nominations for the last two years. Actor Will Smith and director Spike Lee were among a handful of celebrities who said they plan to boycott the event on February 28.
Currently, the academy consists mostly of older, white men, which has been cited as a barrier to racial inclusion in Hollywood's most prestigious awards. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who was the first African-American to be appointed to the organisation's top post, said the reforms showed that the academy is ready "to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up".