Academy announces plan to improve 'Oscar diversity' by 2020

The Academy is aiming to double the number of women and minority members through a series of reforms

academy, diversity, ethnic, minority, women, african, american

Image: Chris Pizzello / AP/Press Association Images

The US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced a plan to make its membership 'much more diverse' by 2020, amid controversy over this year's nominations.

The Academy's Board of Governors says it is committing to doubling the number of women and minority members within five years.

The Academy also says it will launch an "ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity", alongside the existing membership process.

The organisation says that from next year, a new member’s voting status for the annual Academy Awards will last 10 years - but will only be renewed only if that new member has been active in filmmaking during that period.

Members will receive lifetime voting rights if they serve three ten-year terms or if they have won or been nominated for an Oscar themselves.

Meanwhile, members looking to renew their membership but who are not active will become 'emeritus members' of the Academy, who will not be eligible to vote in the annual awards but will receive other privileges of membership.

Three new governors will also be appointed to the group's board.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “the Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up. These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

The changes come amid controversy over the lack of ethnic diversity in the 2015 and 2016 nominations. Spike Lee, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have all said they will not attend this year's ceremony in protest.

British actress Charlotte Rampling - who is nominated for Best Actress - has suggested the controversy and boycott are unfair to white performers.