Motion Picture Academy to Reduce New Membership By Half in 2021

After years of aggressive growth to expand the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of its membership roles, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Wednesday that it will dial back the number of new members it invites this year to roughly half that of previous years.

In the wake of the back-to-back #OscarsSoWhite scandals in 2014 and 2015 — in which no actors of color were nominated for Academy Awards — the Academy pursued the goal if doubling the number of women and underrepresented ethnic and racial communities by 2020. The organization was successful, doubling the number of women from 25% in 2015 to 33% in 2020, and tripling the number of people of color from 10% in 2015 to 19% in 2020.

To get to that point, however, the Academy also greatly expanded the number of members it invited each year. In June 2015, 322 industry professionals were invited to join, which at that point was a record for the organization. By June 2020, the Academy invited a whopping 819 new members to its ranks, to roughly 9,900 people, nearly double from the roughly 5,800 members in 2015.

Maintaining that degree of growth proved to be unsustainable in the long term for the Academy, presaging the need to slow things down.

“As we look to the future growth and goals of the Academy, we need to scale appropriately so we can continue to give the personal service our members have come to expect and appreciate,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “We remain focused on cultivating a membership body that reflects our diverse film community and the world around us.”

More to come.

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