The academy declared earlier this year its intention to double the number of woman and people of color by 2020 but we had no clear understanding of just how many new members that would mean. Wednesday’s announcement of the class of 2016 included explicit mention that 46% of the record 683 invited are women, some of whom factor into the 41% that are people of color. These percentages translates into 314 women, some of whom number among the 280 new minority members.
From the press release touting the new invitees, we know that women had represented 25% of the membership. This meant 1,565 of the 6,261 members voting for last year’s Oscars were women. To double that by 2020 will require the incoming classes for each of the next four years to number as many women as this year.
Likewise, we were told that people of color were 8% of the academy (i.e., 500 members). With invitations extended to 280 this year, the academy is well on-track to far exceed the goal of getting to 1,000 minority members by 2020.
The press release also highlighted the extraordinary geographical diversity of the new class, with 283 invitees (41%) hailing from 59 countries. This is due, no doubt, to the commitment made earlier this year by the academy to “supplement the traditional process in which current members sponsor new members by launching an ambitious, global campaign to identify and recruit qualified new members who represent greater diversity.”
The issue facing the academy in the coming years is the ability to sustain this pace and keep inviting, in the words of academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, “distinguished filmmakers, artists and executives who represent the best in our global film community, and who have made a lasting impact on movie fans everywhere.”