The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received quite a bit of flack over the years for its lack of diversity among members and its continuous lack of nomination for people of color or underrepresented groups. In an effort to fix those issues, which became a major conversation during Oscar season earlier this year, the Academy has invited more than 600 people within the industry to become members, giving them the right to nominate and vote on a variety of things, including the annual Academy Awards.
The full list of people invited to join the Academy can be read here, but some of the highlights include Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Michelle Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Alicia Vikander and Emma Watson. Other, non-actor industry members, including directors Lexi Alexander, Ana Lily Amirpour and Xavier Dolan also received invitations. The 683 invitations mark a new record for membership offers in a single year from the Academy and the diverse recipients is a sign that the Academy is serious about its dedication to have more voices heard. After the Oscar nominations were released in January, and the Academy was swarmed with negative feedback following an all-white group of nominees, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said she was "heartbroken and frustrated" by the lack of inclusion and vowed to actively fix it.
This year, the invitees are 46 percent female and 41 percent people of color, which would make the Academy membership 27 percent women and 11 percent people of color if everyone accepts their invitations. Previously, women made up 25 percent of the membership body, with people of color only accounting for 8 percent. It’s not a big jump, but Isaacs said that this wouldn’t be a quick solution. She added that it would take years for the Academy’s members to reflect the talent working in the industry and, of course, the people watching films.
This year also marks 283 new international invitees from 59 different countries and comes in at a much younger demographic than in previous years. Boyega is the youngest on the list, at 24, and is an attempt by the Academy to get younger industry members involved with the organization.
Even with the additions, the Academy is still 73 percent male and 89 percent white, but Isaacs said they are committed to trying to balance out the membership pool.