Academy Awards releases diversity requirements for best picture

Kadyn Thorpe

The Academy Awards are not only requiring diversity within their membership but also for their award nominees starting in 2024.

The Academy Awards have been working since 2015 to make their membership more diverse, but now they’ve added one of their most strict diversity requirements for one of their biggest awards: best picture.

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For the 94th and 95th Oscars, 2022 and 2023 respectively, submitting the Academy Inclusion Standards Form will be required for best picture consideration, according to a statement on their website. However, starting in 2024 for the 96th Oscars, films will have to meet two of four diversity standards to be deemed eligible.

“32 years later, we are still seeing not only underrepresented racial and ethnic groups but an underrepresentation of women, LGBTQ+ identities and people with cognitive or physical disabilities in Hollywood.”

For the majority of the Academy Awards’ lifespan, people have said that nominations did not represent the diversity of the movie audience. During the 60th annual Academy Awards in 1988, Eddie Murphy, while presenting the award for best picture, spoke about how he was unhappy with the lack of representation of Black actors and actresses in the awards.

“I want you to recognize us,” Murphy said, expressing his frustration with not only the Oscars but all of Hollywood.

32 years later, we are still seeing not only underrepresented racial and ethnic groups but an underrepresentation of women, LGBTQ+ identities and people with cognitive or physical disabilities in Hollywood. In 2013, the Los Angeles Times took a deeper look into the makeup of Academy Awards members. They found that 93% of the members where white and 76% of members were male.

For the 87th Oscars in 2015, out of the 20 nominees for the category of leading and supporting actors, not one was from an underrepresented ethnic or racial group. With the announcement of the nominees, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite erupted on Twitter.

After the backlash in the form of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag on Twitter, the Academy Awards started an initiative to better diversify the film industry, which started with better diversifying their members. The 2020 initiative was put into place in 2016, with a goal of “doubling the number of women and diverse members of the Academy.”

The Academy Awards announced in 2020 that they more than doubled the female members along with tripled the active members from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities.

After they met their goal for 2020, the Academy Awards made another initiative: Aperture 2025. The goal of this 2025 initiative is to “further the dialogue and challenge our history to create a more equitable and inclusive community.” In simpler terms, the Academy Awards want to create new representation and inclusion standards for their award eligibility.

The Academy released these new diversity requirements on Sept. 8. The requirements were designed to encourage representation on and off screen to better reflect the diversity of the movie audience.

There are many people who are excited that the Academy Awards are changing their standards to increase inclusion, but some people have decided that these requirements may be too much.

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Dean Cain, known for his role as Superman in the 1993 television series “Lois & Clark,” was one who stood against the new requirements, tweeting, “How about we judge on this criteria — which film was the BEST PICTURE?” Another celebrity opposing the Oscars’ decision is Kirstie Alley, an American actress and supermodel. Alley tweeted that the new rules were “dictatorial” and “anti-artist,” ending the tweet by expressing that Hollywood is “swinging so far left you’re bumping into your own ass.”

Although there are critics of the new requirements, many people are supporting the Academy Awards for breaking the barrier to make Hollywood more diverse. Culture editor Sonny Bunch tweeted, “The Academy is finally — finally! — doing something to ensure that underrepresented groups have a shot at best picture.”

We will see how the next couple of Academy Awards shows go while they are implementing their diversity requirements and see if all of Hollywood will follow their lead to represent diversity more than ever.

Kadyn Thorpe can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @ThorpeKadyn.