Within the past few years, the Oscars have come under major fire for their lack of diversity in nominations across all categories. Some may remember the many times that “#OscarsSoWhite” began trending shortly after the nomination lists were announced. It’s been a similar pattern among all of the major award ceremonies, but now, the Oscars are attempting to right some of their past wrongs with a list of new “representation and inclusion requirements” for films nominated for Best Picture.
This past Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that movies in the Big Picture category will only receive the nomination if they check off every box on their list of new representation standards. The Academy recently released a statement regarding these new standards which will be a part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative.
“These standards were designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.”
The 2020 Oscars in particular received major backlash for a huge lack of diversity within all categories. Even in terms of gender equality, one third- of the nominations were women – a step up from years past – however, there were no female nominees for Best Director, despite the fact that a majority of the year’s most popular films were directed by women. The most staggering aspect of this past year’s ceremony was the fact that only one person of color was nominated for one of the acting categories.
These new standards for diversity will begin to be phased in with the 94th Oscar ceremony in 2022. For the years in between, a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be submitted for any film that’s eligible for Best Picture, however, the form isn’t a list of requirements. Starting in 2024, films will have “to meet two out of four newly created standards to be eligible for Best Picture.”
The standards are listed by categories A through D, with subcategories. Standard A discusses on-screen representation, themes, and narratives, specifically, at least one of the lead actors must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group (which they go on to list), and at least 30% of all “actors in secondary and more minor roles are at least from two underrepresented groups.” The main storyline must also center around an underrepresented group: women, racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ community, individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities.
Standard B covers more of the behind the scenes making of a film. This standard claims that at least two of the following leadership positions must be done by an individual in an underrepresented group: Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer. The standard then gets more specific with other level positions on set.
Standard C regards “industry access and opportunities,” meaning that any film’s financial sector must pay apprentices and interns who are members of underrepresented groups, as well as ensuring they have a multitude of substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups.
Finally, Standard D discusses overall audience development. According to the standards subcategories, “the studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from underrepresented groups on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.” To read all the specifics of the Academy’s new Best Picture requirements, click here.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.