Oscars invite record 774 new members in push for diversity

Last year, the motion picture academy extended invitations of membership to a jaw-dropping 683 people (by comparison, the 2015 class of 322 had set a new record). On Wednesday (June 28), that benchmark was eclipsed with 774 creative types being asked to join. (See the full list of the Oscar class of 2017.)

While it had been thought that the academy would be hard-pressed to match last year’s record roster of invites, it need to in order to have a realistic chance of reaching its goal of doubling the number of women and minority members by 2020 from those numbers as of 2016.

The academy, which had been loathe to disclose the demographics of its membership in the past, made much of the facts that last year’s list of invitees was 46% female and 41% people of color. This year’s class does not match those benchmarks, being 39% female and 30% people of color.

However, even with the addition of these women to the ranks, they still only represent 28% of the overall membership (up from 27%). Likewise for people of color, as those new members move minority representation from 11% to just 13%.

Before last year’s #OscarSoWhite controversy, the academy already had been making a concerted effort to expand its ranks to include more minority and female members, albeit at a slower pace than now. Indeed, while women accounted for about 30% of the invitees from 2011 to 2013, in both 2014 and 2015 that slipped back to about 25% where it had been in the first decade of this century.

In 2014, the academy invited 271 people to join, a slight drop from the 276 asked to the party in 2013. In turn, that had been a 57% bump from the 176 additions in 2012. This larger number of invitations follows the elimination of a quota system that had restricted the number of new members in years past.

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