The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences not only invited a record number of 928 new members, but is seeing through on their promise to put much more of their focus on diversity. Having been criticized in the past for having a predominantly white and male majority, the Academy’s Board of Governors has made substantial changes this year.
Founded in 1927, the Academy is an honorary organization created to help improve and advance the arts and sciences within the film industry. Made up of 17 branches, including Actors, Directors, Public Relations, Producers, and Visual Effects, the Academy is currently presided over by cinematographer John Bailey, with individuals such as actress Laura Dern, screenwriter Robin Swicord, and director Steven Spielberg serving as Governors in their respective branches. In the past, the Academy has been criticized for their overall lack of diversity, recently prompting their membership invitations to become more diversified. Now, they’ve outdone themselves by inviting a record number of 928 new members that include significantly more women and people of color than ever before.
The Academy recently revealed the 928 new actors and executives that have been invited as members, showing they have broken their own invitation records not only in magnitude, but in diversity. Compared to last year’s 744 new members, the 928 members from 59 different countries invited in 2018 include actors like Daniel Kaluuya, Daisy Ridley, Daniela Vega, and Kumail Nanjiani, as well as directors like Justin Simien (Dear White People) and Angela Robinson (Professor Marston & the Wonder Women) and screenwriters like Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther) and J.K. Rowling (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).
This year, the new Academy members are 49 percent female, with women making up 31 percent of the overall membership. What’s more is that the overall membership for people of color is 16 percent, compared to eight percent in 2015, and people of color make up 38 percent of new Academy invites in 2018. Also, this year the Academy branches that invited more women then men include Actors, Casting Directors, Costume Designers, Documentary, Executive, Film Editors, Makeup Artists & Hairstylists, Producers, and Public Relations.
While there is still plenty of room for a more diversified Academy, the changes made within the past few years – and in 2018, especially – represent a positive evolution of things to come. Especially given the ripple effect following the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, Hollywood is expected to meet new, more inclusive standards. This increasingly more diversified Academy signals hope for a more balanced industry.
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