Will Oscars match last year’s record 683 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). The academy, which had been loathe to disclose the demographics of its membership in the past, made much of the facts that the list of invitees was 46% female and 41% people of color. (See the full list here.)

On Tuesday (June 27), the board of governors will meet to review the recommendations of the 17 branches as to this year’s invitees. Will this year’s roster be as large and diverse as it was last year? It need to be if the academy is 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.

Even with the addition of those 314 women to the ranks last year, they still only represent 27% of the overall membership (up from 25%). Likewise for people of color, as those 280 new members move minority representation from 8% to just 11%.

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.

Among the invitees last year were three of the four winners of the 2016 Oscars for acting. Turns out Best Actress champ Brie Larson (“Room”) and supporting victors Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) could not count on their own votes.

The press release touting the nnouncement included an unprecedented peek at the makeup of the membership. And it includes this message from academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “I am honored to extend membership invitations to 683 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. We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership.”


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