Want a Best Picture Oscar Nomination in 2024? The Academy Requires You to Step Up Your Inclusion Game

Overview of Oscar statues on display at “Meet the Oscars” on February 25, 2010, in New York City.
Overview of Oscar statues on display at “Meet the Oscars” on February 25, 2010, in New York City.
Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images (Getty Images)

The Academy is changing—and we don’t just mean its members.

As part of its Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday that it will be enacting new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility in the Best Picture category. That’s right, if you want the biggest and baddest bitch Oscar, the Academy needs some more diversity and inclusion in your films, y’all.

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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,” Academy President David Rubin and Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a press release sent to The Root. “We believe these inclusion standards will be a catalyst for long-lasting, essential change in our industry.”

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So, let’s get down to the technicalities: Here’s the breakdown of the standards, developed by a task force lead by Academy governors DeVon Franklin and Jim Gianopulus:

For the 96th Oscars (2024), a film must meet TWO out of FOUR of the following standards to be deemed eligible:

STANDARD A: ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION, THEMES AND NARRATIVES

To achieve Standard A, the film must meet ONE of the following criteria:

A1. Lead or significant supporting actors

At least one of the lead actors or significant supporting actors is from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.

• Asian

• Hispanic/Latinx

• Black/African American

• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native

• Middle Eastern/North African

• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

A2. General ensemble cast

At least 30% of all actors in secondary and more minor roles are from at least two of the following underrepresented groups:

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

A3. Main storyline/subject matter

The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD B: CREATIVE LEADERSHIP AND PROJECT TEAM

To achieve Standard B, the film must meet ONE of the criteria below:

B1. Creative leadership and department heads

At least two of the following creative leadership positions and department heads—Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer—are from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

At least one of those positions must belong to the following underrepresented racial or ethnic group:

• Asian

• Hispanic/Latinx

• Black/African American

• Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native

• Middle Eastern/North African

• Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

• Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

B2. Other key roles

At least six other crew/team and technical positions (excluding Production Assistants) are from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. These positions include but are not limited to First AD, Gaffer, Script Supervisor, etc.

B3. Overall crew composition

At least 30% of the film’s crew is from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD C: INDUSTRY ACCESS AND OPPORTUNITIES

To achieve Standard C, the film must meet BOTH criteria below:

C1. Paid apprenticeship and internship opportunities

The film’s distribution or financing company has paid apprenticeships or internships that are from the following underrepresented groups and satisfy the criteria below:

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

The major studios/distributors are required to have substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups (must also include racial or ethnic groups) in most of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

The mini-major or independent studios/distributors must have a minimum of two apprentices/interns from the above underrepresented groups (at least one from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group) in at least one of the following departments: production/development, physical production, post-production, music, VFX, acquisitions, business affairs, distribution, marketing and publicity.

C2. Training opportunities and skills development (crew) 

The film’s production, distribution and/or financing company offers training and/or work opportunities for below-the-line skill development to people from the following underrepresented groups:

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

STANDARD D: AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT

To achieve Standard D, the film must meet the criterion below:

D1. Representation in marketing, publicity, and distribution

The studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from among the following underrepresented groups (must include individuals from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups) on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.

• Women

• Racial or ethnic group:

· Asian

· Hispanic/Latinx

· Black/African American

· Indigenous/Native American/Alaskan Native

· Middle Eastern/North African

· Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander

· Other underrepresented race or ethnicity

• LGBTQ+

• People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing

All categories other than Best Picture will be held to their current eligibility requirements. Films in the specialty categories (Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, International Feature Film, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film) submitted for Best Picture/General Entry consideration will be addressed separately.

Additionally, those who seek to be considered under the Best Picture category for the 94th Oscars (2022) and 95th Oscars (2023) will have to submit a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form. However, to be clear, the above thresholds aren’t required to be considered eligible for a Best Picture nomination until submissions open for the 96th Oscars in 2024.

Naturally, the news reverberated throughout the Hollywood industry, with most giving a nod to April Reign, the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite movement.

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“As I’ve long said, the real change still has to start on the page, and with the studios who greenlight those films, she tweeted in reaction to the news, also noting that this kind of progression does not exist in a vacuum. “The goal is to ensure more inclusive films get made that are told by/with/for traditionally underrepresented communities; the awards come much later.”

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Of course, some white folks were big mad about an establishment that has been known to be quite exclusive and restrictive opening up the long-kept gate a little bit wider. Somehow, that is the threat to true art and not the reverse. OK. Specifically, two white women who represent those usually first in line to benefit from these types of affirmative action initiatives expressed their disapproval: Kirstie Alley (who called the move “a disgrace to artists everywhere” in a now-deleted tweet) and Justine Bateman.

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Basically, those complaining about maintaining the “sanctity” of the Oscars basing their awards solely on merit are operating from peak privilege, given the many systemic forces placed against marginalized creators to even get to the point where they could even think about being eligible for an Oscar within the most basic of its standards (such as access to financing, distribution, marketing, etc.). While this is absolutely a step forward in the right direction, there were legitimate concerns in regard to how established filmmakers will try to shirk the system, including attempting to hit typical diversity and inclusion points by choosing the easiest option.

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Additionally, this isn’t something that should encourage white filmmakers to simply throw Black folks in their films just to fulfill a quota without actually respecting their full identity; instead thinking stereotypical characterizations are going to fly. Overall, this shouldn’t just be about performative representation, but actual equal opportunities for Black actors, filmmakers and other film crew members in an industry that has historically shut them out.

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So, we’ll see what happens. We’ll be paying attention.

The Root has reached out to The Academy for additional quotes on their big announcement and we will update once we receive them.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

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So Kirstie Alley is upset (don’t worry, Rebecca, most of the world has no idea who you are, and you certainly wouldn’t stand a chance at any sort of award even if they WEREN’T doing this), and Justine Bateman assumes the only reason a movie would be up for the award is ONLY if they met the criteria.

Does Ms. Bateman think that Hollywood is so chaste, honest, decent, and upstanding all on its own that no one ever hired her specifically because of the way she looked? That is in no way her fault, but (even aside from her whiteness) thin, conventionally attractive women have gotten “perks” from this crappy, inhumane industry since its start, and any improvement should be tolerated, if not celebrated.

Sounds like more RE-acting than acting happening in regard to this development.