DGA President Paris Barclay: Academy Changes Are Not Enough

Barclay says that the recent changes “alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve”

Paris Barclay, the President of the Directors Guild of America, said Monday that while changes proposed by the Academy may help increase diversity in Hollywood, they “alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve.”

“The Academy’s decisions — to broaden its leadership and membership, and to limit voting rights for those no longer active in the industry — are important actions and may lead to greater acknowledgement of more diverse films and people who make them,” Barclay said in a statement. “But this alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve.”

On Friday, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences announced what it referred to as “a sweeping series of substantive changes” to its rules to promote greater diversity in Academy membership.

The most dramatic new rule changes the traditional lifetime voting privileges attached to Academy membership, reducing it to a 10-year term renewable on the basis of one’s active status in the industry.

The Academy’s goal, it said in the statement, is to double the number of women and minorities in AMPAS by 2020. The Board has a regularly scheduled meeting coming up on Tuesday, at which the diversity issue has been added to the agenda.

The Academy proposed these changes in the wake of the controversy surrounding this year’s nominations, which failed to include a single actor of color for the second straigh year. Meanwhile, the cast of “Straight Outta Compton” was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Ensemble Award, and Will Smith and Idris Elba both received Golden Globe nominations.

“The current Oscar controversy has put a spotlight on a condition that has long shamed this industry: the lack of women and people of color across all aspects of opportunity and employment,” Barclay added in his statement. “The Directors Guild believes that the industry and the community should be responsible for telling all people’s stories and reflecting the diverse lives we lead.”

Barclay added that the Academy is not the sole perpetrator in the lack of diversity in Hollywood, claiming that “many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted.”

Instead, he asked for “structural changes,” stating that “those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the ‘old boy’ network and word-of-mouth hiring” and “find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of ‘approved lists.'”

Lastly, his statement called out “a handful of executives” who have said a lot about wanting to implement changes but have done very little to put those plans into action, and asked that the entire industry work together to cause “significant change.”

See Barclay’s full statement below.

The current Oscar controversy has put a spotlight on a condition that has long shamed this industry: the lack of women and people of color across all aspects of opportunity and employment. The Directors Guild believes that the industry and the community should be responsible for telling all people’s stories and reflecting the diverse lives we lead.

Many times, with the best of intentions, a subject that is a symptom of this industry plague, but not the root cause, is targeted. The Academy’s decisions – to broaden its leadership and membership, and to limit voting rights for those no longer active in the industry – are important actions and may lead to greater acknowledgement of more diverse films and people who make them. But this alone will do little to create more choices and get more films and television made that reflect the diversity we all deserve.

Statements, statistics, pleas, and calls for action have done little to move the needle. It is time to be clear – structural changes are needed. Those who control the pipeline and entryway to jobs must move beyond the “old boy” network and word-of-mouth hiring. They must commit to industry-wide efforts to find available diverse talent that is out there in abundance, or to train and create opportunities for new voices entering our industry. Rules must be implemented to open up the hiring process and rethink the idea of “approved lists.

A small handful of executives had spoken of their intentions to improve – none have put forward a clear plan of action. Only when those who control the pipeline decide to individually, or jointly, take concrete action will we see significant change.