The Oscars’ New Diversity Initiative Significantly Increases Number of Women and People of Color in the Academy (Finally)
In many sectors of society right now, it feels like we may finally be reaching a point of progress in battles we’ve been fighting for centuries. The Oscars’ 2020 initiative to be more inclusive is no exception.
People who have been following the Oscars for years now know that the lack of representation among the Academy’s nominees and winners has been a problem for as long as the Oscars have been around. People of color and women have been seriously denied the nominations and awards they deserve, and outrage about this fact blossoms from the awards ceremony every year.
The lack of representation in the nominations and the awards clearly stems from a lack of representation within the Academy itself, the people making the decisions. This year, in response to the ongoing outcry of #OscarsSoWhite and the prevalence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Academy has launched a specific initiative to include more people of color and women among its members. This year they invited 819 new members, 36% of which are people of color and 45% of which are women, with about half of them coming from overseas. Now, Academy membership has gone from 24% female to 33%, and POC membership from 10% to 19%. The Academy will also be launching a “diversity initiative” over the next five years, in which they will set standards for inclusion that will determine a film’s eligibility in the Oscars. Of course, there is work still to be done here, but these improvements mark the beginning of the Academy setting itself on the right track.
In a Facebook post, filmmaker Maggie Greenwald (‘Sophie and the Rising Sun’) said, “Today, thanks to the sponsorship and support of sister directors Mary Harron and Patricia Riggen, I have been welcomed into the Academy. A new day. A new era. This is our time! I am very proud to be part of this wave.” The Academy is blossoming as a result of women supporting women. This is a concept central to the mission of FF2, and it seems like it’s catching on.
Greenwald is one of many wonderful female filmmakers invited into the Academy that FF2 has been proud to support over the years. We are absolutely thrilled to see them achieving the recognition they deserve:
- Lucy Alibar (‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ – Writer)
- Francesca Archibugi (‘The Leisure Seeker’ – Writer, ‘Like Crazy’ – Writer)
- Sara Bernstein (‘Official Secrets’ – Writer)
- Kat Candler (‘Hellion’ – Writer/Director)
- Alison Chernick (‘Itzhak’ – Writer/Director)
- Sophie Deraspe (‘A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile’ – Writer/Director)
- Sydney Freeland (‘Drunktown’s Finest’ – Writer/Director)
- Susanna Fogel (‘Booksmart’ – Writer, ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ – Writer/Director, ‘Life Partners’ – Writer/Director)
- Bette Gordon (‘The Drowning’ – Director)
- Megan Griffiths (‘Sadie’ – Writer/Director)
- Julia Hart (‘Fast Color’ – Writer/Director, ‘Miss Stevens’ – Writer/Director)
- Tamara Kotevska (‘Honeyland’ – Writer/Director)
While we won’t applaud the Academy for doing work that is long overdue, there is no denying that this is an important and exciting development in the world of film. The Oscars have always been paramount in defining each year’s season of films, and now that the Academy is taking meaningful steps to include people of color and women, it marks the beginning of a new power for historically marginalized groups to take part in the cultural conversation.
© Julia Lasker (7/2/2020) FF2 Media