The Move To Make The Oscars More Diverse: Film Academy Invites 928 New Members

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Written by Ann Brown

 

Maybe this year #OscarsSoWhite won’t be trending. It won’t if the Academy of Arts and Sciences has its way. It has just sent out invites to nearly 1,000 potential new members all in a diversity push.

According to the Academy, which has been criticized for its mostly white and male membership, it had invited 928 new members from 59 countries. Among those invited are: “Girls Trip” star Tiffany Haddish; rapper Kendrick Lamar; actress Amandla Stenberg; actor Larenz Tate; “The Mindy Project’s” Mindy Kaling; and comedian and actor Dave Chappelle.

“If all those invited accept, female membership would rise to 31 percent from the current 28 percent, the group said. People of color will increase to 16 percent from 13 percent,” Reuters reported. “Total membership would stand at more than 7,000 actors, writers, directors, executives and others.”

This is all part of the plan, the Academy announced in January 2016 when it said it would improve diversity within its ranks to double the number of women and people of color by 2020.

There are other changes the Academy has made. “Instead of all members getting lifetime voting rights, each new member’s voting status lasts for a decade and will be renewed only if that member remains active in films. Lifetime voting rights will, however, be extended to members who have served three 10-year terms and to all Oscar nominees. The organization also started a global campaign to identify and recruit new members who represent greater diversity, which is in addition to its years-long process of having current members sponsor new ones,” Reuters reported.

While April Reign, the activist who in 2015 founded the movement #OscarsSoWhite, told “Good Morning America” in a statement that she is “encouraged” by this latest development, “she is concerned that the academy may not reach its goal of doubling the number of women and that the share of members who are people of color remains low,” ABC News reported.

“While they reached their goal with respect to people of color, 16 percent of the membership leaves a lot to be desired when we are all too aware of the contributions that people of color have made to the film industry for decades,” Reign said. “I will be interested to see how the academy will work to close this significant gap and foster both equity and inclusion.”

According to the Academy, nine branches of members within the academy invited more women than men, including actors, casting directors, makeup artists and hairstylists.

By the time Oscars 2019 opens the envelope, all will see if the Academy is well on its way to reaching its goal. Let’s see if diversity is the winner.

Oscars
This combination photo shows, top row from left, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Jada Pinkett Smith and Timothee Chalamet, and bottom row from left, Kendrick Lamar, Gina Rodriguez, Chloe Zhao, Tiffany Haddish and Sarah Silverman who are among 928 people invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (AP Photo)