Just one week before The 84th Academy Awards, the shame of the The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences (AMPAS) totally-not-diverse membership was tossed before its collective feet Sunday, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times. The big stat: The Academy is 94 percent white, and 77 percent male.
In a path-breaking work of investigative journalism, LA Times reporters John Horn and Nicole Sperling went through interviews and records to determine the actual identities of 5,100 of the 5,765 voting members. Here’s what they learned:
• Some of AMPAS 15 branches are totally white and male.
• The Academy’s executive branch is 98 percent white, as is its writer’s branch.
• Of the Academy’s 43-member Board Of Governors, just six are female,and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a 25-year public relations. executive and former head of publicity for Paramount Pictures and former President of Theatrical Marketing for New Line Cinema, is the one black person or person of color.
• 62 percent of AMPAS Members have had a movie made in the 21 Century; 11 percent (over one in 10) have a movie-related history that’s not known.
• A whopping 54 percent of AMPAS members are over 60, and another 25 percent in their 50s; that’s 85 percent of the Academy membership that’s over 50 years of age.
Some of the reactions of AMPAS members that were described in the LA Times were shocking – specifically the idea that having diverse membership ranks means the members aren’t are “accomplished” as if the ranks were as they are today: almost all white.
Show me a less than diverse group and I’ll show you an organization that can’t truly claim to have the highest achievers in its ranks because it didn’t look at everybody to gain it’s list. How do you know who’s really the best if you’re excluding part of the population because of skin color? You don’t know who’s really the best. You just can’t know.
Famed Entertainment Industry blogger Nikke Finke had this classic response:
Leave it to the Los Angeles Times to give us yet more ‘Like Duh!’ film coverage. Little wonder why the newspaper is now irrelevant in the Hollywood community. So its study finds that Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences members are nearly 94% white and 77% male and have a median age of 62. But the paper fails to hit hard on how that’s because the powers-that-be running the movie industry — from the moguls to the agents to the guilds – are the least diverse on earth. That would have taken balls.
One thing’s for sure: Oscar Host Billy Crystal’s bound to include this story in his opening number.