Academy Continues Strides Toward Diversity with New Member Class

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced its largest voting class ever this year, and—like in the past few years—the new membership reflects a more diverse Hollywood.

The pool of people voting for next year’s Academy Awards just got a lot bigger—and more diverse, too.

This week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 774 film professionals to join the organization—a record number for a single year. But beyond simply adding more people to the group’s membership, it’s also adding more women and minorities to the list.

As Collider notes, the organization has seen a 359 percent increase in women invited to the organization between 2015 and 2017, along with a 331 percent increase in the number of people of color. In this year’s list of invitees alone, 39 percent of inductees are women and 30 percent are minorities.

Some notables among this year’s additions: Get Out director Jordan Peele, actor and musician Donald Glover, Hamilton creator (and Oscar nominee) Lin-Manuel Miranda, comic actress Amy Poehler, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, Mad Men star Jon Hamm, and famed TV and film writer Joss Whedon.

Some branches of the Academy (such as acting, executives, and film editors) even added more women than men this year.

The growth in diversity in the Academy Awards in recent years reflects the work of its president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has focused on issues of diversity as part of her reign of leadership—something that notably reflected in the 2017 nomination pool, along with the (eventual) Best Picture winner, Moonlight. (Isaacs is departing the organization after choosing not to seek re-election to the board earlier this year.)

In comments to Deadline, Isaacs noted that she felt it was important that more voices get a say on the films voted on each year—no matter the discipline.

“All of our members are professionals at the top of their forms, every last one of them. And I believe that they vote based on their knowledge of particular skill sets, and that’s what they look for,” she explained. “What’s most important is that each year more people are actually looking at more films and really taking a dive into the film, both from their branches and areas of expertise as well as the film itself, and that is certainly what the voting for Oscars is, but it also involves more people getting involved in our Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting awards, or the Student Academy Awards, or the Sci Tech area, all of what we do.”

“It’s not just the Oscars,” she added.

New Academy member Jordan Peele, who has made waves in Hollywood this year as the director of "Get Out." (Kevin Edwards/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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