Academy bows to pressure with Oscars overhaul

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 last night, following a week-long storm of criticism and calls for an Oscar boycott after Academy members nominated an allwhite list of actors for the second year in a row.

Ms Isaacs said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 51-member board of governors unanimously approved a series of reforms to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition”.

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

Michael Caine said black actors should not be nominated just to add diversity, as he weighed in on the Oscars race row.

Hollywood heavyweights, Spike Lee and Will Smith are boycotting the Academy Awards because no actors from ethnic minorities were nominated in the top-four categories. But Caine told Nick Robinson, on Radio 4’s Today show, that it should not become a box-ticking exercise.

He said: “There’s loads of black actors. In the end, you can’t vote for an actor because he’s black. You can’t say ‘I’m going to vote for him. He’s not very good, but he’s black, I’ll vote for him’.”

He continued: “You have to give a good performance and I’m sure people have. I saw Idris Elba (in Beasts Of No Nation)... I thought he was wonderful.”

The two-time Academy Award-winner offered the advice to black actors to “be patient”.

“Of course it will come. It took me years to get an Oscar, years,” he added.

Caine also pointed out the bright side of an Oscars snub. “The best thing about it is you don’t have to go. Especially the Oscars — 24 hours on an aeroplane and I’ve got to sit there clapping for Leonardo DiCaprio.

“I love Leonardo. He played my son in a movie, but I’m too old to travel that far,” he said.

After returning from retirement, because “I couldn’t find a television show I wanted to watch every day”, Caine is starring in new film, Youth, and has filmed bank heist movie, Going In Style, with Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.

He said would love to film the story of the Hatton Garden burglary, alongside Ray Winstone.

“I would do it, yeah, if the script was good. If I was starting that script, it would begin funny and then become sinister, because those guys are not funny guys, they’re serious criminals. It’s sort of comedy gets Jack Carter in the end,” he said.

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