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Why the Academy’s Diversity Push Is Tougher Than It Thinks

Michael Cieply, Brooks Barnes | The New York Times   in  · ·
February 5, 2016

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, scrambling to address an outcry over a lack of diversity among its membership, has vowed to end the gender imbalance within its ranks while vastly expanding the number of nonwhite members.

But a close examination by The New York Times of the academy’s largest group, the actors branch — whose more than 1,100 members control acting nominations for the Academy Awards — shows that achieving those goals might be more difficult than, say, predicting the annual Oscar winners.

The academy is typically reluctant to disclose the identities of its members and does not regularly provide demographic information about them. There is no set standard for membership and no consistency when it comes to how many people from the film industry are invited to join each year.

Now, as the academy tries to remake itself by recruiting younger and more diverse members and jettisoning those no longer active in the business, it is confronting new challenges. There are protests that it is being unfair to older actors, worries that it could simply be creating different diversity issues in the future and criticism from those within its ranks who do not want to use categories like race, age or gender as any kind of organizing principle.

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