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The Oscars have revealed new diversity requirements for best picture nominees. Will they help?

The Academy Awards have been criticized for their lack of diversity, so a task force developed new guidelines to encourage inclusivity in the best picture category.

The Oscars have revealed new diversity requirements for best picture nominees. Will they help?
Image Source: Getty/ 92nd Annual Academy Awards - Press Room. (Photo by Rachel Luna)

Several years after the original #OscarsSoWhite controversy and amid renewed discourse about racial justice, the Oscars have decided to encourage inclusivity and diversity more fiercely. Starting with the 96th Academy Awards in 2024, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will expect nominees of the best picture category to follow strict requirements, which they revealed on Tuesday. The "sweeping eligibility reforms" to the best picture category are designed in order to strengthen diversity and equitable representation, both on-screen and behind the scenes. The reforms will address gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and disability, The Guardian reports.



There are now four newly-established broad representation categories. These include on-screen; among the crew; at the studio; and in opportunities for training and advancement in other departments of both film’s development and its release. If a film is to be considered at all for the best picture category, it must fulfill at least two of the four new standards. These standards are further divided into subcategories. For instance, to achieve on-screen diversity requirements, a film can meet one of the three objectives. The first is that the film must either have at least one lead character or a significant supporting character from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. The second requirement states that at least 30 percent of all secondary roles must be played by actors from two underrepresented groups. Finally, the film's main storyline, theme, or narrative could be centered around an underrepresented group.



Meanwhile, the second umbrella of requirements—diversity and inclusion among the crew—addresses the creative leadership and crew composition of a film, an often overlooked aspect of film production. There are, again, three ways in which a film could meet the requirement. Firstly, a film must have either at least two leadership positions or department heads be from underrepresented groups and at least one be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. Secondly, at least six other crew members must be from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups. Or thirdly, at least 30 percent of crew members must be from underrepresented groups. As per the academy, an "underrepresented group" includes women, people of color, folks from the LGBTQIA+ community, or people with disabilities.



The new guidelines were developed by a task force led by academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos. The task force worked in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America and took heed from the diversity standards used by the British Film Institute and the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson affirmed in a written statement announcing the new requirements, "The aperture must widen to reflect our diverse global population in both the creation of motion pictures and in the audiences who connect with them. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry."



As the best picture nominee is the one category every film academy member can vote for, these requirements are expected to have a positive impact on the diversity of stories we tell and present on-screen. However, many have wondered if the guidelines will lead to tokenistic representation rather than actual change. The remaining categories will follow the current eligibility requirements.  The changes will not impact the 93rd Academy Awards, which have already been affected by the ongoing public health crisis.



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