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Want A Best Picture Oscar? Be Ready To Meet These New Diversity Rules

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FILE: Oscar statuettes backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards on February 9, 2020 (Richard Harbaugh /Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images)
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For years, activists have called on Hollywood to try to do better when it comes to diversity. Now, the Oscars say if studios don’t, they won’t be invited to their awards show.

Multiple studies show that studios consistently fail to hire women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera. It’s what created the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. In this year’s ceremony, only one non-white performer, “Harriet’s” Cynthia Erivo, was among the 20 actors nominated for lead or supporting roles.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn’t decide who gets jobs, but it does write the rules for who can compete for an Oscar. And starting in 2024’s show, any film eligible for best picture must meet several criteria for inclusion and diversity.

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Specifically, the academy said in a radical rule change, a movie must pass at least two of four tests to qualify for the top trophy.

Those standards include having at least one lead or supporting actor come from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group or have an ensemble that’s at least 30% diverse. Another test is that a movie must have multiple department heads who are not white men.

The academy also will reward productions that have internship, training and marketing initiatives aimed at women and people of color.

Animated, foreign language and documentary films that want to compete for best picture also must meet the new rules.

A statement released by Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said:

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“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. The Academy is committed to playing a vital role in helping make this a reality. We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

These latest moves come after years of effort to diversify the members of the Academy who vote for top honors. In 2012, a story I was a lead reporter on for the L.A. Times — called Unmasking The Academy — found that members were overwhelmingly white and male.

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