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#NewRules: Diversity Must Be Present for BAFTA Eligibility

When #OscarsSoWhite became a thing, the fight for diversity and representation in film and television became louder and voices were heard.

As more artists began to speak out about the lack of opportunity, pressure was placed on the big studio houses to shake things up and go beyond their comfort zones. Since then, we’ve seen the rise in people of color gaining platforms to tell stories that identify with the Black experience as well as an overall human experience.

NBC brought us the emotional, family-driven drama, This Is Us, which does an excellent job of the aforementioned through telling the story of Randall (Sterling K. Brown), who was left at a fire station following his birth and adopted by Jack and Kate – a White couple who were set to deliver triplets, but lost one during the birthing process.

We’ve also seen the success of blackish, and series newcomers Insecure and Atlanta. On the film side, Ava DuVernay is ruling production sets and Ryan Coogler succeeded when he revamped the Rocky franchise, with Michael B. Jordan at its head.

We can clap it up for these strides and wins in the land of representation. But, let’s be honest, we still have a ways to go before we have inclusion in the writer’s room, directing, and in front of the camera in a role that’s anything other than the “Black guy/girl.”

The television market is on its way. However, where are we with film?

That lingering questioning is a component in the new rules made by the British Academy of Film & Television Awards (BAFTA). Known as the Oscars of the U.K., the academy announced that beginning in 2019, any film /works that does not demonstrate inclusivity in their production will no longer be eligible for the “Outstanding British Film” or “Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer” awards.

In addition, as described by BBC, eligible projects would need to include diversity in on-screen characters, themes, senior roles and crew, industry training and career progression, and audience access and appeal to underrepresented audiences.

Would this compromise artistic freedom? That could be argued, but then again, creatives are known to stretch their imagination and make the unimaginable work.