The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided to grant talent agents—previously classified as associate members of the Academy—the privilege to vote for Oscars, making them full-fledged members.
The decision was announced on Monday. Within the Academy there are 17 branches and two membership status categories: Members-at-Large and Associates. The Associates membership status is intended to include and accommodate individuals whose work is related to the motion picture industry, but does not fit into one of the branches.
Voted by the Board of Governors, the membership status of Artists’ Representatives (talent agents) will be reclassified from Associates to Members-at-Large. With this new membership status, agents will now have voting rights that were previously unavailable for them.
In addition to 111 current members of the Academy, agents invited to join the Academy in 2020 will also be given this reclassification. While the list of new members being invited to join in 2020 has not been disclosed yet, half of the 842 new members invited to join the Academy in 2019 were women and almost a third were people of color.
For years agents have contended that they deserve to be full-fledged members of the Academy as they are also essential members of the film industry. Opposing arguments have stated that due to potential built in biases, agents would be inclined to support their own clients or their agency’s clients if given the opportunity to vote. These biases would risk the possibility of bloc voting.
The Academy’s decision on the matter may have come in an effort to continue to increase the number of women and people of color who are members. On June 12, it announced the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, meant to increase diversity in the Hollywood community and includes plans for a more inclusive Oscar race.