In a stunning and record breaking move, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, best known for holding The Oscars every year, has invited 928 new members to join them. This is in response to the negative backlash the Academy regularly receives for not being diverse enough.
For 91 years, The Academy has been a well respected beacon in the film industry, with many of its members being some of the most beloved people in the film industry, including Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern, Tom Hanks, Whoopi Goldberg, and Michael Giacchino, all of whom are currently "governors" in the Academy. Up until now, the Academy reportedly had over 6,600 members, all of whom are responsible for voting for who should win each Oscar in their respective branch (actors vote for the Actors Branch, cinematographers vote for the Cinematographers Branch, etc.). That number is now around 7,500.
While the Academy has invited many people at once to join their ranks, it has never been almost 1,000 people added at once until now. Over the past few years, the Academy has been making some monstrous changes to how they operate in order to be more diverse in their selections, or to at least consider everyone equally regardless of gender, race or other important, protected statuses. This was part of a change that started in 2017 when cinematographer John Bailey took over as President.
Among the newly invited members are actors and actresses like Daniel Kaluuya, best known for Get Out and Black Panther, Daisy Ridley, best known for playing Rey in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, and Emilia Clarke, best known for Game of Thrones and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Other actors on the list are Mindy Kaling, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, Hank Azaria, Rashida Jones, Lily James, Danai Gurira, Isla Fisher, Taron Egerton, Zoey Deutch, Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Chappelle, Hannibal Buress, Alison Brie, Blake Lively, George Lopez, Chloë Grace Moretz, Olivia Munn, Sarah Silverman, Miles Teller, and Amy Schumer.
There were also many other new members who were not known for acting, including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was credited as the screenwriter of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them as the reason for her addition. J.K. Rowling has fought for social justice quite a bit on social media over the past few years, even making a few statements about the lack of diversity in the Academy, so hopefully her inclusion will help the Academy and the Oscars for the better.
In addition to releasing their new list of members, the Academy also included some graphics showing the progress they have had with diverse inclusion over the years. Of the newly invited members this year, 49% were female, bringing the overall female membership in the Academy up to 31%, which is a 6% jump from 2015. Additionally, 38% of the people added this year were people of color, bringing the overall people of color membership up to 16%, which is double what it was three years ago. While these numbers still aren't great, they are incredible improvements and show that the Academy is finally on the right track in terms of diversity.
While it's likely many people will try to twist this incredible announcement by The Academy as a bad thing, it is fantastic news for people in the film industry, or even those who want representation in their movies. For years, the Academy was the epitome of the diversity problems in the industry, so the fact that they are actively working to fix this issue is great news. Hopefully these 928 new members will be able to give great input for the 2019 Academy Awards in March.