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Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences pledges to double number of women, diverse members by '20

By Karen Butler   |   Jan. 22, 2016 at 4:43 PM
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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unanimously approved a series of changes designed to make its membership and governing bodies more diverse.

The organization, which bestows the Academy Awards, called Oscars, for excellence in film, said its goal is to commit to doubling the number of women and diverse members by the year 2020. No number of new inductees was specified.

The move came after all 20 nominees in the acting categories for this year's Oscars were Caucasian artists for the second year in a row, prompting filmmaker Spike Lee, actress Jada Pinkett Smith and actor Will Smith to announce they would not participate in a ceremony.

Chris Rock is to host the event on Feb. 28.

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement Friday, noting the changes that will soon be implemented. "These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."

Starting later this year, each new member's voting status will last for 10 years, and will be renewed if that person has been active in motion pictures during that decade. Members will earn lifetime voting rights after three 10-year terms, or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award.

If a current member has not been active in the last 10 years, he or she may still qualify by meeting the other criteria, but those who do not qualify for active status will be given emeritus status and will not be permitted to vote in the Oscars.

The changes will not affect voting for this year's award presentations.

The Academy also said it will supplement the traditional process -- in which current members sponsor new members -- by establishing "an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity."

Three new governor seats will also be added. The people who will fill them will be nominated by the president for three-year terms and confirmed by the board.

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