Politics

The Oscars Unveil Diversity Requirements For Best Picture Contenders

The new requirements follow years of call-outs from critics both within and outside of Hollywood highlighting the nearly century-old ceremony’s lack of diversity.

A view of oscar statuettes backstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. | Getty Images/Christopher Polk
A view of oscar statuettes backstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. | Getty Images/Christopher Polk

Five years after the initial #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the group behind the illustrious awards ceremony is making diversity and inclusion a requirement for future films to be considered for Best Picture. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees the Oscars, introduced on Tuesday a set of diversity standards for future films hoping to qualify for Best Picture. Presented under the initiative Academy Aperture 2025, the group said “the standards are designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.”

Starting in 2022 for the 94th Oscars and continuing in 2023 for 95th Oscars, candidates for Best Picture must first submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form. 

Then, starting in 2024, film candidates must meet two of the academy’s four diversity standards to be eligible for Best Picture. The standards range from featuring actors from underrepresented groups, to ensuring diversity in the films’ creative and project teams and using distribution or financing companies that offer apprenticeships or internships for underrepresented individuals.

The Oscars’ new requirements follow years of call-outs from critics both within and outside of Hollywood highlighting the nearly century-old ceremony’s lack of diversity. 

In January 2015, activist April Reign created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite after the academy gave all 20 acting nominations that year to white actors. The following year, the Academy once again awarded nominations to all-white actors, which reignited blowback, and prompted the group to overhaul its overwhelmingly white membership.

The Academy Aperture 2025 was first introduced in June 2020, with the group promising more equitable hiring practices, an unconscious bias training offered to its more than 9,000 members, and a series of panels for members and the public to discuss topics including race, ethnicity, history, and opportunity in filmmaking. 

The academy also announced in June that the 93rd Oscars would be postponed for two months and instead take place on April 25, 2021. Referring to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement that the date change was implemented to “provide the flexibility filmmakers need to finish and release their films without being penalized for something beyond anyone’s control.”

Earlier this year, the film "Parasite" directed by Bong Joon-ho made history at the Academy Awards, becoming the first non-English-language film and first South Korean film to win Best Picture. Despite that accolade, the nominations mostly excluded women and people of color and drew expected criticism.