Seven months have passed since a South Korean thriller won the Oscar for best picture, but the road to turning the Hollywood Film Academy into a global institution appears to be still halfway there. The next step is to require certain minimum conditions of diversity to the films to be eligible for that category. The demands affect what is seen on screen and also the production teams, to “better reflect the diversity of film audiences,” the Academy announced Tuesday .
In the 2025 awards , that is, in the 2024 films that want to compete for the Oscar for the best production of the year, one of these conditions must be met: at least one protagonist who is not white; at least 30% of supporting characters women, minorities, LGBTQ or disabled; Or that the main topic is about one of these underrepresented groups on screen.
The Academy’s race to become a global and diverse institution in which all audiences can be recognized began five years ago after the controversial #Oscarssowhite (Oscars so white). That year the twenty nominees in the actor categories were white, when there were notable films with black actors. That controversy ignited a debate in Hollywood to which the Academy reacted by setting very ambitious goals to increase diversity among its body of voters, who until then were mostly white men, North Americans and of a certain age.
Between 2015 and 2020, the institution admitted new members in groups of hundreds to correct this situation. The number of women rose from 25% to 33% of the Oscar voting body. The number of non-white academics has gone from 10% to 19%. The Academy is also embarking on becoming more international and turning the Oscars into a global event, not just an American one, convinced that it is its only way forward. In this time, it has admitted 819 new members from 68 countries.
The consequences were seen soon. At the 2019 awards, the Mexican film Roma won four statuettes and was on the verge of the Oscar for the best production of the year. Last February, South Korea’s Parasites finally made history by becoming the first film produced abroad and shot in a non-English language to win the Oscar for best picture.
The Academy considers that the work is not finished. Now she tries to get into the content of the movies, in what is seen on the screen. However, the new rules are not as strict as it may seem. On-screen diversity is one of four inclusion standards that films must meet. The others affect creative teams. For example, 30% of the team is from underrepresented groups, or at least one team leader is from a minority. You can also give minorities internships, or have diverse marketing and distribution teams . That is, if a movie is about British soldiers in WWI, like 1917, you don’t have to see minorities and women on the screen. There are other eligibility requirements that you may meet to qualify for the best movie. These new rules do not affect the other categories of the Oscars, only the main prize.
The rules have been imposed by a special panel made up of the Academy’s governors and producers DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopoulos. They are based on those already approved by the British academy , which delivers the BAFTA awards. BAFTA Committee Chairman Marc Samuelson reacted Tuesday night with a statement congratulating the Hollywood Academy on the decision.
The new goals appear in what the Academy called Initiative 2025, a five-year plan that the institution describes as “the greatest challenge in our history to create a more equal and inclusive community.” “We must open up to better reflect the diverse global population in both the making of films and the audiences that connect with them,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “We believe that these changes will be a catalyst for lasting and profound change in our industry.”