Culture

Oscars Voting Body Invites 819 New Members In Push To Diversify The Academy

Zendaya, Awkwafina, Eva Longoria, John David Washington, and Park So-Dam are among the latest batch of invitees, which comprises 45% women and 36% people of colour
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Photo via Instagram / @theacademy

Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its latest move in a continuing effort to increase diversity in the film industry — it has invited over 800 new members to join its class of 2020, with a significant emphasis on women and minorities.

Representing 68 countries, the list of 819 invitees features names like Zendaya, Awkwafina, Cynthia Erivo, Eva Longoria, John David Washington, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, and Constance Wu. This year’s Best Picture winner Parasite, which made history as the first foreign language film to clinch the award, ushered in 13 new members all by itself, including Park So-Dam, Lee Jung-Eun, Jang Hye-Jin, and Cho Yeo-Jeong. Of the invitees, 45% are women, 36% are people of colour, and 49% are from outside the United States. Those who accept will have voting privileges at the next Oscars, slated for April 2021.

1593752181421334 cynthia erivo in versace
Photo via Instagram / @versace
1593752553888726 zazie beetz in thom browne

The long-overdue move from the Academy comes after years of criticism for being overly white and male. In the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite movement of 2015, the Academy promised to double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities by the year 2020, a goal it has now surpassed. The organisation also recently announced the next phase of its equity and inclusion initiative, Academy Aperture 2025, which will continue to push for greater diversity not only within its ranks, but also in the industry as a whole.

“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one,” said CEO Dawn Hudson in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to foster an Academy that reflects the world around us in our membership, our programs, our new Museum, and in our awards.”

There is still much work to be done, however, so the Academy can’t rest on its laurels just yet. Women still make up only 33% of the some 9,000 members, while people of colour account for a mere 19%. The 2020 Oscars, meanwhile, showed that it’s still a white man’s game, with nominations snubbing the many strong female and minority contenders in the field.

All that being said, here’s hoping a real change is on the horizon.

Check out the full list of new members here.   

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