The voting body of the Oscars has taken a step forward in their pledge for a more diverse Academy as they invite 819 new members.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences invitations include notable Hollywood figures such as Zendaya, Yalitza Aparicio, Cynthia Erivo, Mati Diop, Eva Longoria, Awkwafina and Constance Wu. They represent just some of the 45% women and 36% people of colour included in the new invitees.
If the invitees accept, they will be involved in the voting process for the 2021 Oscars. The extraordinary amount of people invited, as well as the number of women and POC, follows the demand for more diversity and inclusion within the ranks of Hollywood.
This isn’t the only step that the Academy has made to be more inclusive. Whereas the current rules for Best Picture state anywhere between 5 and 10 films can be nominated, in a statement on 12 June, they announced the permanently expansion of this category to 10 after severe criticism over the lack of minority filmmakers. The Academy hopes this change will be helpful in a selection of more diverse nominations.
“The Academy will encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the film community. To ensure more diverse representation, the Academy will create a task force of industry leaders to develop and implement new representation and inclusion standards for Oscars eligibility by July 31, 2020.”Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, June 2020
The Academy is currently composed of over 8,000 members, with 2,000 members being inducted in the last three years. This has seen a steep increase in diversity with the Academy, although currently 16% members are POC and the majority of members are still white and male.
Despite this, there has been massive strides in ensuring diversity. Just this past year, Bong Joon-Ho’s cinematic masterpiece Parasite became the first non-English-language film to be awarded Best Picture.This followed the success of Moonlight in 2017, a film which featured the tale of a queer black man. However, there has been some key setbacks, including awarding Best Picture in 2019 to Green Book, a film that has been criticised for being “racially tone deaf.”
However, with the new invitation there seems to be more hope for a more diverse Academy. The list covers a larger variety of sectors, from acting, directing, costume design and more. What’s more, the list is more international and cover at least 68 nations. The Academy president, David Rubin, said that the organization is “delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences.”
The inclusion of the new invitees as well as a new five year plan to create more inclusion for nominees is an excellent direction for the Academy to take. This should allow for a typically harsh and exclusive industry to be more caring and inviting to all.
Words by Paul Dawson