Academy Actors Branch 87 Percent White, Study Finds

Oscar Statuettes - P 2015
Misha Gravenor

Oscar Statuettes - P 2015

According to 'The New York Times,' only about 6 percent of actors in the Academy's membership are black, under 4 percent are Hispanic and less than 2 percent are Asian.

The Academy has recently taken steps to encourage diversity among its ranks after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy ramped up last month, while a closer look at its membership provides a clearer picture of exactly what it's dealing with.

A report from The New York Times has found that the actors branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is 87 percent white and overwhelmingly made up of older, male members. More than two-thirds of the actors are over 60 years old, and only 42 percent are women. 

Out of its 1,100 members in the branch, only about 6 percent of the actors are black, under 4 percent are Hispanic and under 2 percent are Asian. A representative from the Academy has confirmed these findings.

This year's #OscarsSoWhite debate began after not a single nonwhite actor was nominated for any of the four acting categories at the Academy Awards. In response, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs laid out a plan that she believes could create a more diverse membership over the next five years. Included in that initiative is a new yearly recruiting effort, the addition of three more board of governors seats and the implementation of a voting rights review every 10 years. Some members have applauded her efforts, while others argue that it discriminates against veteran voting members. 

The New York Times reports that in order to meet Boone Isaacs' goals, the Academy would have to add 14 black actors and nine Hispanic or Asian actors each year. That alone would add up the same number that were invited to join the actors branch last year. 

Speaking to THR last month, Boone Isaacs addressed the diversity issue and how the Academy responded. "We could not be silent. And we had no reason to be silent," she said. "It isn't a smart thing just to sit back and just sort of let the conver­sation get out of hand when it's about you. At some point, you need to speak up."