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Academy president promises 'big changes' after criticism of overwhelmingly white Oscars

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This year's list of Oscar nominees — almost uniformly white and overwhelmingly male — has drawn heavy criticism from a number of sources for a lack of diversity. Now among their number is Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Isaacs released a statement tonight in which she said she was "heartbroken and frustrated by the lack of inclusion" in the list of this year's Academy Award nominees, and that "dramatic steps" would be taken to change the makeup of the Academy's membership. "It's time for big changes," she said

In her statement, Isaacs — elected Academy president in 2013 — promised to conduct a review of membership recruitment "in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond." She noted that the Academy had made steps to diversify its membership over the last four years, but said that despite this, "change is not coming as fast as we would like." Isaacs said that the organization, which allows new members by invite only, needed to "do more, and better and more quickly."

The Academy has stepped up its recruitment of people who aren't white men in recent years — in 2014 10 of 21 writers invited to join were people of color, as were 10 of 26 directors — but the Academy is still 93 percent white and 76 percent male. The Hollywood Reporter has argued real change may only come when all of the older members die off, but Isaacs' statement, and her apparent dismay at the lack of diversity on show in the nominees, does at least show that the Academy is taking the issue seriously.