Oscars Emphasizing Diversity With New Academy Additions

Still smarting from criticism by the public and within the industry over a lack of diversity in the most recent batch of Oscar nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is addressing the issue by inviting a significant number of minorities and women to become members.

The academy doesn’t want an #OscarsSoWhite repeat.

Addressing its diversity issue, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited a record number of filmmakers, performers, and related producers to join the Academy. Indeed, AMPAS boasts that the Academy class of 2016 is its most diverse class in recent history.

“We’re going to just keep going,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs told USA Today. “When you set a goal, you really want to set a high one. Otherwise, what’s the point? This is a process we’re continuing until 2020. And we won’t stop then, either.”

Invite Them All

The historic move includes invitations to a whopping 683 members of the film industry from around the world, which could increase the voting pool by nearly 10 percent, to about 7,000 members.

“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,” Boone Issacs said on the Academy’s website. “We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”

America Ferrera, Brie Larson, and Emma Watson are among some of the well-known actors in this class of inductees. Others include Eva Mendes, Ice Cube, and Idris Elba. 283 may be new international members. The list includes 28 Oscar winners and 98 nominees with a total of 109 nominations.

Of the invitees, 46 percent are women, and 41 percent are minorities. If all 683 accept their invitation to join, there will be a small change in the Academy’s diversity: Female members will rise from 25 percent to 27 percent, and minority voters will increase from 8 to 11 percent.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said in a news release.

NAACP Approves

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People commended AMPAS on its big step toward a more diverse membership.

“The progress that is being made by AMPAS is certainly going in a very positive direction, with more that can be done,” Roslyn Brock, NAACP National Board Chairman, said in a press release.

Brock mentioned her organization’s long-standing relationship with Boone, who has an NAACP Hall of Fame Award, and praised her work with the Academy. She also extended an offer, on behalf of the NAACP, to collaborate on efforts to increase diversity within AMPAS and the film industry.

“The NAACP continues to believe that the ‘O’ in Oscar should stand for Opportunity,” Brock added.

Idris Elba is one of the potential new members of the academy. (Reuters file photo)

Patrick deHahn

By Patrick deHahn

Patrick deHahn is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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