Academy announces most diverse class ever post #OscarsSoWhite

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the group to which it is extending membership invites for this year is the biggest and most diverse group ever. Where does the Academy go from here?

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
An Oscar statue appears outside the Dolby Theatre in preparation for the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2016.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited its biggest and most diverse group yet to join its ranks, with actors such as Michael B. Jordan and America Ferrera and directors including Ryan Coogler and Lana and Lilly Wachowski all receiving invitations.

The Academy came under fire earlier this year after it nominated all white actors for all the Oscars acting prizes for the second year in a row.

According to the Academy, 41 percent of the people being invited to join this year are people of color and 46 percent are female. If every person invited joins the Academy, the membership will be 11 percent people of color and women would make up 27 percent of the group. 

“This is the result of having everyone be part of this conversation about inclusion and the diversity of talent making motion pictures in the year 2016,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs told the Hollywood Reporter

Can the Academy keep up the pace? Boone Isaacs said earlier this year that the Academy wanted to double the amount of female and minority members by the year 2020. To do so, the Los Angeles Times predicted the Academy would need to extend invitations to 375 women at a minimum and more than 130 people of color every time for the next four years. 

Boone Isaacs said of meeting the goals, “It might be a challenge, but we are continuing to keep that pedal to the metal,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. 

Many are seeing the news as a welcome move forward on what should be a long road. The new invited members “opens the door to deserving artists across disciplines, proving that diversity and excellence are not mutually exclusive,” producer Stephanie Allain told The New York Times

Meanwhile, April Reign, who coined the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag and is editor at large of NU Tribe Magazine, told the LA Times, “Work still needs to be done. #OscarsSoWhite shone a light on what already existed. Unfortunately, it appears they’re being reactionary instead of proactive. So whether they bit off more than they can chew remains to be seen.”

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