In a revolutionary move, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts will overhaul two of its categories to encourage more diversity in casting and on production crews.
Beginning in 2019, BAFTA announced, the categories for Outstanding British Film and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer will need to meet the requirements of the British Film Institute’s Diversity Standards. To do so, filmmakers must demonstrate efforts have been made to improve the representation of underserved groups, like nonwhite individuals and people of lower socioeconomic status, in two of four categories: on-screen representation, narratives and themes; project leadership and creative practitioners; industry opportunities and access; and opportunities for diversity in audience development.
But that’s not the only change BAFTA is implementing. As early as next year, the ceremony, which is the British equivalent of the Oscars, will stop requiring prospective members to have a proposer and seconder to apply. The move will allow for a greater number of members and ensure that talent, not personal connections, is the only criteria considered for membership.
The push to increase diversity follows the #OscarsSoWhite controversy at the Academy Awards in 2015 and 2016. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has since announced plans to overhaul its voting guidelines and also has invited hundreds of new members to join. Such efforts will likely change the makeup of the organization, which currently has only 6 percent nonwhite members and has a median age of 63, according to Variety. Comparatively, BAFTA’s newest 375 member class was 18 percent non-white and had a median age of 44.