The Academy: The Organization Behind the Oscars


Cassidy Meehan, The Pulse and Social justice Editor

With the Oscars airing this past Sunday, viewers frequently heard thanks being granted to “the Academy.” But who truly is the Academy? 


Synonymous with the Academy Awards, the Oscars is a prestigious awards ceremony for members of the film industry. But where does its name derive from? Is it the same “Academy” that has been acknowledged numerous times in acceptance speeches? 


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or simply the Academy, is an exclusive organization formed in 1927. A little over 10,000 members, divided into 17 branches, each nominates and votes for Oscar candidates.  


As described by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the branches represent, “actors, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary filmmakers, executives, film editors, makeup artists, and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, [and] visual effects and writers.” All members must be involved in the filmmaking industry in some respect. 


In order to join the Academy, one must be sponsored by two current members from the branch they wish to enter into. The nomination then is reviewed by the Board of Governors – defined by as those who, “direct the Academy’s strategic vision, preserves the organization’s financial health and assures the fulfillment of its mission – who decides whether to accept or deny the nominee a position in the Academy. 


New members are added to the Academy once a year because, “the Academy has taken steps to diversify its membership, especially after receiving criticism for a spate of all-white acting nominees,” as explained by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).


In an effort to address the gender discrepancy in the filmmaking industry, the Academy Talent Development and Inclusion Initiative created the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women. explains “The fellowship combines direct financial support with personalized mentorship, access to once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities, and lifelong career advancement support via the Gold Alumni Program.”