The Academy Awards chooses its winners based on the votes of a select group of Hollywood insiders, but it turns out that group might be more select than we might think. According to a study conducted by The Los Angeles Times, the Academy, which boasts 5,765 members, is 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male. Only 14 percent of the Academy is younger than 50, and as for its minority voters: Only 2 percent are African-American, while 2 percent are Latino.
It’s not an entirely surprising result — after all, the industry is known for being primarily male and white. And Academy President Tom Sherak says that’s part of the problem. Sherak told the L.A. Times that he has attempted to diversify the Academy, but has trouble doing so, since it mirrors a very white industry. Says Academy governor Phil Alden Robinson, “We start off with one hand tied behind our back… If the industry as a whole is not doing a great job opening up its ranks, it’s very hard for us to diversify our membership.”
Of course, as the L.A. Times notes, criticism of the industry and the Academy has been ongoing for years. Most notably, Jesse Jackson protested the Academy in 1996 over its lack of diversity. And big names within the industry have also found themselves in agreement with the likes of Jackson — Samuel L. Jackson just last year noted to the L.A. Times that 2011’s ceremony didn’t include one African-American presenter.
Still, the Academy does have high hopes that it will continue to see its minority numbers rise — Sherak told the L.A. Times that he was hoping the study itself encourages more diverse members of the industry to apply for membership. (“Come to us, we’ll get you in. We want you in. That would help us a lot.”) For the time being, though, it might not be surprising that The Artist is the heavy favorite to win this Sunday. After all, your parents love it.
EW Special Coverage: Oscars 2012