From inclusion riders to public protests, calls for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood have been taking the limelight in recent years. The latest developments in the US related to BLM Movement have brought this topic again into the frontline.
After many discussions and thought, the organization that hands out the Academy Awards said Friday it would form a group to develop diversity and inclusion guidelines that filmmakers will have to meet in order for their work to be eligible for Oscars. However, the new rules will not apply to films vying for Oscars at the next ceremony in 2021.
Latest researches show that the percentage of female characters and characters from underrepresented racial groups has not significantly changed in over a decade.
There is more than twice the number of males than females on-screen, the report said. Though women comprise half the population, only 30.6 percent of all roles examined were female. Women were also twice as likely to be sexualized on-screen than men, appearing in sexy clothing or in the nude.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has been criticized for honoring few movies and creators of color, said the move and other steps represented a new phase of a 5-year effort to promote diversity.
The group said in a statement it would work with the Producers Guild of America to convene a task force of industry leaders to develop “representation and inclusion standards” for Oscar’s eligibility by July 31 that will “encourage equitable hiring practices on and off-screen.”
It was a period of reckoning in Hollywood these past years, including the Times Up and Me Too movements, which called attention to the industry’s sexual harassment and gender inequity. A few years ago, activist April Reign started the trending hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to protest the all-white slate of nominees for the awards. The online movement spurred the Academy to heavily recruit female and non-white members and to nominate more underrepresented groups.
“As much as there’s been a real groundswell of awareness and advocacy audience has yet to really see that become something that really affects the way people in Hollywood are hiring and casting. It’s important to keep the activism going and keep talking about how much more progress needs to be made,” said an activist.
The academy responded in part by doubling the number of women and people of color in its invitation-only ranks. Still, by 2019 just 32% of its roughly 8,000 members were women, and 16% were people of color. New members will be announced next month.
“We know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson said. “The need to address this issue is urgent.”
Hollywood has been reckoning with a lack of diversity and portrayal of racism on-screen amid protests over the death of George Floyd.
Among other new measures, the film academy will guarantee 10 best picture contenders annually, rather than a fluctuating number up to 10, to give more films a shot at the industry’s most prestigious prize.
To achieve diversity A-list actors should include inclusion riders in their contracts, or provisions to hire underrepresented people for both on- and off-screen positions on the project. Film companies should also set specific inclusion goals and local governments look into providing tax incentives for diversity.