Idris Elba, Emma Watson, Ice Cube among those invited to join the Oscar voting ranks.
By
reuters.com

Source:
Reuters
30 Jun 2016 - 1:58 PM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2016 - 2:13 PM

The Academy invited a record 683 new members, with members of the new class being 46% female and 41% people of colour, it announced on Wednesday.

The new members include Star Wars actor John Boyega, Idris Elba and last year's best actress winner Brie Larson. Also invited: Kate Beckinsale, Creed director Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan and Emma Watson.

The Academy membership, with the new class included, is now 27% female and 11% people of colour. Before the announcement of the new class, it was just 25% female and 8% people of colour, which represents a 2% increase in female members overall and a 3% increase in people of colour, according to the statistics.

The diversity push was in response to the #OscarsSoWhite uproar that took place earlier this year, when all-white acting nominees (for the second year in a row) put a microscope on the Academy's largely white and male membership.

The new class is by far the largest ever announced by the Academy.

"We're proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership," Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, said in a statement. She also encouraged Hollywood and the larger creative community to "open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."

The new class is by far the largest ever announced by the Academy. Also included in the new invitees are Anthony Anderson, Adam Beach, Chadwick Boseman, Carmen Ejogo, America Ferrera, Greta Gerwig, Carla Gugino, Regina King, Tom Hiddleston, Rachel McAdams, Patti LuPone, Anika Noni Rose, Nate Parker and Marlon Wayans. Last year's winners Alicia Vikander and Mark Rylance are also on the list.

There are also 283 new international members invited from 59 countries. The previous benchmark for a large class was set last year, when 322 invitees were announced - less than half the number announced on Wednesday.

Before last year, the number of new invitees was even smaller. 271 invites were sent out in 2014, 276 in 2013, 176 in 2012 and 178 in 2011.

The Academy's approximately 90% white and 75% male membership has been under intense scrutiny recently. The most recent Oscars were boycotted by the likes of Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has insisted that the organization is making a concentrated effort on getting more diverse voices in its ranks.

In response to the backlash, the Academy in January voted unanimously for a series of rule changes to make its membership more diverse. The goal, the Academy said, is to double the amount of diverse members by 2020.

"The Academy will supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity," AMPAS said in a press release at the time. In order to meet the stated goal, the Academy will have to add 500 non-white members and 1,500 female members in the next five years.

The new class also skews younger, as the Academy has been criticised for its members being too old. The youngest person on the list is Boyega, who's 24 years old. As the Academy pointed out, the range of ages in the Academy is now 24-91.

Though Wednesday's announcement represents only a slight bump in diversity, it is an improvement over past years. Female invitees typically fell within 20% and 30% of new members in past years, with diverse invitees usually only making up about 15%.

 

View the full list of 2016 invitees here.

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