The Academy Awards – the highest honour for an entertainer – is Hollywood’s most glamorous night to celebrate the best in film for the year. Past winners have included the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep. However, a change has swept the film industry. Fresh stories are being told from unique perspectives that showcase the lives lived by people from all walks of life. It is with this mindset that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set new requirements to be adhered to for the Best Picture category. The requirements are meant to encourage diversity and representation.
These new prerequisites are evident in four categories, each with its own subcategories. The films for consideration must satisfy at least two of these categories to be eligible for the award. The categories in question are on screen, among the crew, at the studio, and opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release.
The on screen requirement dictates that the film must contain at least one leading or significant supporting character that is of an underrepresented racial group. Alternatively, at least thirty percent of the film’s secondary roles must be from two underrepresented groups, or the plot, theme or narrative of the film must be centred on an underrepresented group. The academy confirmed that women, persons of colour, queer persons or disabled persons constitute as underrepresented groups.
“The Academy’s new diversity standards were created by DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos.“
According to the crew requirement, the film must have at least two persons from underrepresented groups in leadership positions or department heads (with at least one being from an underrepresented racial group). Six crew members, or thirty percent of the crew, should be from an underrepresented racial group.
‘At the studio’ refers to internship opportunities and the training of workers ‘below the line’. The last category, opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release, applies to representation within persons involved in the marketing, publicity, and distribution of the film.
The Academy’s new diversity standards were created by DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulos. In consideration of similar diversity standards within the British Film Institute and British Academy of Film and Television Awards, the Academy’s new standards were formed.
Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson have stated that the films up for the prestigious award must “reflect our diverse global population”. This is to bridge both film and the audience, in hopes that this change begins a new lasting era in Hollywood – one that celebrates all stories and showcases the talent of what a diverse group of artists can create. The new standards of representation will be in full effect in 2024 at the 96th Academy Awards.