Hollywood’s new black-and-white film academy is no place for black women, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said Wednesday.
The academy, which was created in 2011 to support and expand the careers of African-American filmmakers, said it has no black female directors or writers among its current membership.
Its announcement comes less than a year after an NAACP-backed lawsuit against the academy, spearheaded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, forced the creation of a new black director’s council, which includes prominent figures in the industry, including Sharpton.
“As the Academy has announced, the film school has no history of diversity, and our students, faculty, and staff have always been comprised of individuals of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the academy said in a statement.
The announcement came in a letter to the Los Angeles Times by the new president, David Geffen, the director of the Academy, which is run by George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.
“We are committed to fostering the growth of our talented and diverse members, and the Academy is one of the many institutions that we believe will serve as a model for our industry,” Geffen said.
“Our goal is to build a diverse community where all students, staff, and faculty feel valued and welcome.
We welcome the opportunity to make these changes and will continue to monitor the progress of this important issue.”
The academy has long been criticized for its lack of diversity.
Last year, the Los Gatos, California, school said it was halting its hiring of new directors, saying the academy lacked a black female director.
In a separate statement, the academy also said it will “be adding an inclusive program of training for all staff, including those in the arts.”
The new black female leaders will be named by the academy’s governing board, which will decide who will lead the academy.
The new council also includes a handful of former and current black and white Academy members.
A spokeswoman for the academy declined to comment.
The news comes as the academy is also considering hiring a director to direct the first feature film in more than 50 years, a move that could create a black-led slate of films.
The Academy also announced that it will hire a black woman director for the film “A Man Called Ola” from writer/director Kip Hawley, who will serve on the project.
Hawley’s directorial debut, “Ola,” premiered in the U.S. on July 15.
The film is about a family trying to raise a son in a poor Indian community, a story that has sparked criticism from some activists and critics.
“The film will be produced by Black people,” Hawley said in an interview.
“It will be a black film.
It will be an American film.”
Hawley is not the first filmmaker to join the academy to direct a feature film.
In 2014, “Selma,” an African-led documentary that also starred actor Tessa Thompson, was made into a feature movie.
The director, Jeff Nichols, was also tapped to direct “Selena,” according to Variety.
The Hollywood Reporter reported last year that the Academy was working on hiring a black director to lead the project, though the project was never formally announced.
The report also said that the new African- American female leaders were being chosen for their “depth of expertise, their expertise in the African-African film and their experience with the industry.”
The Academy said in its announcement that it has been hiring filmmakers and directors for the new film academy.