The Latest: Cheadle says diversity issue goes beyond Academy

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Posted: Jan 22, 2016 7:15 PM
The Latest: Cheadle says diversity issue goes beyond Academy

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The latest on Friday's statement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on a series of diversity reforms approved by the board of governors late Thursday (all times PST):

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4:03 p.m.

Actor Don Cheadle said he believes that Hollywood's diversity problem extends far beyond the Academy.

"(This) has to do with inclusion and access and the ability of people of color, women, minorities to get entry level positions where you can become someone who can greenlight a movie," he said in an interview with The Associated Press. "So until the product that's being spit out is created at a point where there is more diversity, I don't know that these changes will substantively affect much. "

Cheadle, nominated for best actor for "Hotel Rwanda" in 2005, called the Oscars "subjective" and "a popularity contest."

"You're going to vote for what you like or don't like. It's a completely subjective determination which is fine. It's a popularity contest. The only place to me, or one of the places where it comes into play that's tricky, is that these nominations actually translate into dollars and they translate into people's ability to parlay. If you're sort of kept out of that process unintentionally because of an institutionalized system that continues to see the same results happen then you are not able to benefit," he said.

He also questioned the black and white definition of diversity that some have jumped on in recent days.

"People think that the Oscars so White is like the new Black Lives Matter thing. It's like guys, you're conflating things that at that level don't have anything to do with each other," he said. "Diverse doesn't just mean more black people. Diverse means more representation from the entire diaspora of what the United States has to offer, not just one particular minority group. That's a part of it too that I think people are just focusing on that isn't really the issue."

He said he looked forward to hearing Oscar host Chris Rock's take on the issue. Rock already had tweeted that this year's Oscars are "the white BET Awards."

"I hope he just does what he does better, and he will he does it better than anybody, which is hold the mirror up to everyone. You know what I mean? Everybody needs to have the piss taken out of them a little bit. Everyone needs to be skewered from this, from the people that are complaining to the people who aren't saying anything to the people that are saying there's no problem, to the people that are saying it's all problems," he said.

"This could be a defining moment for Chris Rock, and I hope it is.

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3:37 p.m.

The president of the African-American Film Critics Association, Gil Robertson, said he thought the Academy was acting quickly and sincerely to address the issue. "The Academy is certainly getting to work," Robertson said. "Certainly with the new changes, it is searching for ways to correct the problem. I think this is going to have a really good outcome for the Academy AND the industry. Because the Academy is just a small part of the system."

Robertson added: "Those who have been frustrated with the procedures need to be patient ... rather than tweet, maybe they can reach out to the Academy and find out how they can assist in the process. I think what we saw earlier in the week was just frustration. Once the dust settles, calmer heads will prevail."

Several people, including Jada Pinkett Smith and husband Will Smith, as well as Spike Lee, said they would not attend the Oscars after the acting nominees were all white.

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3:27 p.m.

Actor Don Cheadle said he applauded the Academy's slate of reforms, but questioned whether they'd make a difference.

"I applaud their attempts to do something about it, which is great," Cheadle, who was nominated for best actor in 2005 for his role in "Hotel Rwanda," said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But, again, this is dealing with the symptom, not starting at the root cause of how we even get to results like this, which has to do with inclusion and access and the ability for people of color, women and minorities to get at entry-level positions where you can become someone who can green-light a movie."

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the AP that "things have changed" and that it was time for the Academy "to step this up."

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Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs noted that societal change played a role in the series of reforms unanimously approved by the board of governors late Thursday.

"We all are aware that our membership is pretty closed, if you will," she said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "However, life has changed. Things have changed."

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2:37 p.m.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said that while the Academy has been working for several years to diversify its membership, a second year of all-white Oscars acting nominees was an impetus for more action.

"Last week, when the nominations were said, we all kind of looked at each other and said, 'We need to step this up.' That was really important," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It needs to be timely.

The Academy's 51-member board of governors voted late Thursday in favor of a series of reforms aimed at diversifying membership.

"There's a lot of conversation out there," Boone Isaacs said. "We need to get out there what we've been talking about internally, but now we have to put it into action. So that's what we did."

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2:05 p.m.

Hollywood reaction came swiftly Friday to the Academy's decision to institute a series of reforms aimed at increasing diversity.

Ava DuVernay, director of last year's best picture-nominee "Selma," tweeted that "Shame is a helluva motivator."

"Marginalized artists have advocated for Academy change for DECADES," DuVernay wrote. "Actual campaigns. Calls voiced FROM THE STAGE. Deaf ears. Closed minds."

And director Rick Famuyiwa, whose films include "The Wood," ''Brown Sugar" and last year's "Dope" commented: "The devil is in the details."

The Academy's board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday, including limiting members' voting status to 10 years, diversifying leadership and doubling the number of female and minority members by 2020. Since the all-white Oscars acting nominees were announced on Jan. 14, several people, including Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith and Spike Lee, who is among those receiving the Governors Award this year, said they would not attend the ceremony.

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12:46 p.m.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had no immediate reaction to the Film Academy's reforms announced Friday.

Both had pledged not to attend the Oscars this year. Idris Elba, who was not nominated for his role in Netflix' critically acclaimed "Beasts of No Nation," also had no immediate response.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, whose "Selma" was nominated for best picture last year but not for lead actor David Oyelowo, quickly responded via Twitter.

"(O)ne good step in a long complicated journey for people of color and women artists," she wrote.

Cameron Bailey, artist director of the Toronto International Film Festival, called it "impressive, bold action" and tweeted, "studio's you're next."

The Academy's board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday, including limiting members' voting status to 10 years, diversifying leadership and doubling the number of female and minority members by 2020.

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12:34 p.m.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday to "begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition," president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said.

Other changes include limiting members' voting status to a period of 10 years, to be extended only if the individual remains active in film during that decade. Lifetime voting rights will be granted only to Academy Award nominees and winners, and to members after three 10-year voting terms. Previously, all active members received lifetime voting rights.

The organization also plans to diversify its leadership beyond the board of governors by adding new members to key decision-making committees, and further diversify its membership with a global campaign to identify and recruit diverse talent.

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12:28 p.m.

In a statement, the Academy president says that changes to membership will have "an immediate impact."

"The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up," said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. "These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."

Beginning later this year, each new member's voting status will last 10 years, and will be renewed if that new member has been active in motion pictures during that decade. In addition, members will receive lifetime voting rights after three ten-year terms; or if they have won or been nominated for an Academy Award. We will apply these same standards retroactively to current members. In other words, if a current member has not been active in the last 10 years they can still qualify by meeting the other criteria. Those who do not qualify for active status will be moved to emeritus status. Emeritus members do not pay dues but enjoy all the privileges of membership, except voting. This will not affect voting for this year's Oscars.

The changes come in response to a diversity crisis that erupted for the second time in two years after this year's Oscars acting nominees were all white.

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12:26 p.m.

The film academy is pledging to double the number of female and minority members by 2020, and will immediately diversify its leadership by adding three new seats to its board of governors.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the changes Friday, following a weeklong storm of criticism and calls for an Oscar boycott after academy members nominated an all-white slate of actors for the second year in a row.

Isaacs said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms late Thursday to "begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."

Other changes include limiting members' voting status to a period of 10 years.

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12:17 p.m.

The Film academy pledges to double number of female and minority members by 2020 in response to diversity crisis.