Academy diversity pledges welcomed by Hollywood.

Actor Don Cheadle called the measures “a step
in the right direction”. Oscar nominee Matt Damon also praised the
initiatives, but added the industry had “a long,
long, long way to go”. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs
announced the changes following a backlash
over the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar
nominations. The all-white line-up in the four acting
categories prompted director Spike Lee, actress
Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband Will Smith
to announce they would not be attending next
month’s awards. Three new seats will be added to the Academy’s
board of governors to improve diversity in
leadership, while voting rights will be stripped
from those who have not been active in the
industry for the past decade. “The Academy is going to lead and not wait for
the industry to catch up,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement. “These new measures regarding governance and
voting will have an immediate impact and begin
the process of significantly changing our
membership composition.” Speaking at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah,
Cheadle said he applauded the Academy’s
attempts to do something about an issue that
has threatened to overshadow this year’s
ceremony. “But people really have to have access to tell
the stories they want to tell,” he continued. “So what we really need is people in positions
to greenlight those stories, not a hunk of
metal.” Writing on Twitter, Selma director Ava DuVernay – whose omission from last year’s
best director shortlist was the source of some
controversy – said “shame [was] a helluva
motivator”. “Marginalised artists have advocated for
Academy change for DECADES,” she continued,
claiming their calls had been met with “deaf
ears [and] closed minds”. The film-maker said the new measures
represented “one good step in a long,
complicated journey for people of colour [and]
women artists”. Spike Lee also expressed qualified support for
the new measures, describing them as “a start”. “I commend the Academy for what they’ve
done,” he continued, while reiterating his own
pledge that he would not be attending on 28
February. Damon, who is up for best actor for his role in
The Martian, said the moves were “a wonderful
first step” but said Hollywood must do “much,
much, much more” to more accurately reflect
society. Meanwhile, the producer of this year’s Academy
Awards telecast has confirmed that Chris Rock
will host the 28 February ceremony as planned. The comedian had faced calls to relinquish the role in protest against the lack of diversity in
this year’s nominees. Rock, said producer Reginald Hudlin, was hard
at work rewriting material for next month’s
show to reflect the fact that “things [had] got a
little provocative”. Hudlin, who was Oscar-nominated as producer
of 2012’s Django Unchained, said he was
confident Rock would “deliver something that
people will be talking about for weeks”. Dustin Hoffman, Sir Michael Caine and Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling are among those to have offered opinions in recent days on the
Oscars diversity row. Their ranks have been joined by Dame Joan
Collins, who has turned to Twitter to express her
displeasure at Lee’s description of the Oscars as
a “lilly white” [sic] event. “I’m a voting Oscar member [and] I nominated
Idris Elba for [his] great performance in Beasts
[of No Nation],” she told her followers on Saturday. “So I resent members being called
Lilywhite#wrong.” Nelson Mandela’s daughter Maki, meanwhile,
has called the protests about the lack of black
actors in this year’s nominees “very significant”. “You have to understand that the struggle of
oppressed people anywhere in the world is a
struggle of oppressed people around the
world,” she told John Pienaar on BBC Radio 5
live’s Pienaar’s Politics. “You can’t say that I am only concerned about
my own backyard.”

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