A growing wave of awareness was sparked by the inception of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, created by activist April Reign in January of 2015. Since that time, the question of diversity and representation within the Academy of Motion Pictures has been on the forefront of many minds when considering Oscar nominees and winners, especially in the category of Best Picture.
The Academy has since made noticeable efforts to include a larger number of individuals from underrepresented groups. The mission of The Academy’s latest initiative, Academy Aperture 2025, is “broadening the lens through which [they] recognize excellence.”
Paired with this initiative is a new set of requirements that all productions starting 2022 or later must meet in order to qualify for a nomination within the Best Picture category. The Academy outlines four standards, of which every production must meet two of four in order to qualify.
Each standard outlines the greater inclusion of underrepresented groups, which include all or a combination of: women, racial or ethnic groups, LGBTQ+, and people with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing, within qualifying productions.
The four standards are titled as:
- Standard A: On-Screen Representation, Themes, and Narratives
- Standard B: Creative Leadership and Project Team
- Standard C: Industry Access and Opportunity
- Standard D: Audience Development
These four standards encompass the entirety of a film production, including on-screen talent, department heads and the crew their departments consist of, as well as the marketing, distribution, and publicity teams. Standard C even outlines that the productions are “required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups,” making the industry more accessible overall for the groups specified.
Although the 2021 Oscars may have been delayed, it seems the Academy is wasting no time in making positive changes within the industry and holding their most dignified productions to a higher standard, opening wider the door for underrepresented groups to enter and thrive within the industry.
The full rundown of these new standards can be found here.