Last summer, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — AMPAA, aka the folks who hand out Oscars — elected a new president: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy's first African-American president, and the third woman to hold the position. And now we can see that Isaacs is making some changes.
According to the Los Angeles Times, 271 people have been invited to join the Academy, in cluding Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, Oscar nominee Pharrell Williams, and Oscar-nominated, Somali-born actor Barkhad Abdi. Producer Megan Ellison — who founded Annapurna Pictures in 2011, which has since then released Zero Dark Thirty, Her, and American Hustle — is also among those invited.
Including this week's new invitees, the academy said it has 6,417 members. In recent years the academy has been trying to widen the reach of its largely white, older membership — an effort that continued this year, according to academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
"The academy is committed to bringing new voices into our ranks," Isaacs said Thursday shortly after the invitee names were announced.
"We are encouraging our members to be our ambassadors, looking for folks of color, gender and international status to become members. This has been an initiative here for a number of years, and some are a little better than others — but we're committed to diversify."
Oddly enough, despite these marquee names, the Academy actually invited fewer women and minorities this year. But Isaacs told the Times: "That has actually given us even more of a push to encourage a more diverse membership." The Academy definitely needs a push:
In December — after adding 432 voting members over two years — the overall academy was 93% white and 76% male, The Times found. The median age inched up to 63.
By the by, not just anyone can join the Academy.
Individuals gain entry to the academy by earning an Oscar nomination, getting two members to pen recommendations, or receiving an endorsement from an academy membership committee or the organization's staff.
Still: Isaacs' commitment is excellent news, considering the movie industry has a problem with women, and traditionally, up until very recently, "Young Hollywood" lists — the people called the future of the business — are often all white.
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