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Film Academy pledges to double membership of women, minorities by 2020

LOS ANGELES - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes Hollywood's annual Oscar awards ceremony, pledged on Friday to double its membership of women and minorities by 2020.

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An Oscar statue is seen during the nominations announcements for the 88th Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California January 14, 2016. The Oscars will be presented in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. (Phil McCarten/Reuters)

LOS ANGELES - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes Hollywood's annual Oscar awards ceremony, pledged on Friday to double its membership of women and minorities by 2020.

The Academy said under its new criteria, members who have not worked actively in the film industry in the past few decades would no longer have voting rights for the Oscar awards.

The Academy said it will "take immediate action to increase diversity" by adding three new seats to its board that are open to women and minorities who are not already Academy governors.

It said the rule changes will not affect voting for this year's Oscars, which will be announced on Feb. 28.

The Academy faces a protest over the absence of actors or filmmakers of color in this year's Oscars nominations. Actor Will Smith, filmmaker Michael Moore and a handful of others have said they will shun the awards ceremony.

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The list of the 6,000 or so academy members has never been disclosed although a 2012 Los Angeles Times study found that its members were nearly 94 percent white and 77 percent male.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is African-American and has come under increasing pressure from actors and filmmakers of color, said "The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up."

"These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition," she said. 

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