After #OscarsSoWhite, film academy invites diverse new membership

Months after the #OscarsSoWhite backlash, the film academy behind the Oscars has invited a diverse blend of 683 filmmakers, movie artists and executives to join its ranks.

Canadians invited to join include Adam Beach, Rachel McAdams, Xavier Dolan, Deepa Mehta

The film academy behind the Oscars has invited a diverse mix of 683 filmmakers, movie artists and executives to join its ranks, including (from left) Idris Elba, Freida Pinto, Daniel Dae Kim, Adam Beach and America Ferrera. (Associated Press)

Months after the #OscarsSoWhite backlash, the film academy behind the Oscars has invited a diverse blend of 683 filmmakers, movie artists and executives to join its ranks. 

"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," Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl BooneIsaacs said in a statement Wednesday.

New members range from recent Oscar-winners such as Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander and Mark Rylance to famous names from a variety of backgrounds, including Idris Elba, America Ferrera, Vivica A. Fox, Carla Gugino, O'Shea (Ice Cube) Jackson, Daniel Dae Kim, Michael B. Jordan, Eva Mendes, Freida Pinto, Mary J. Blige and Will.i.am.

The list also features a host of Canadians, including Adam Beach, Bruce Greenwood, Rachel McAdams, Xavier Dolan, Mary Harron, Deepa Mehta, Patricia Rozema and Emma Donoghue.

Should all the invited members accept, the academy says its new class would boost the diversity of the overall membership to 27 per cent female (46 per cent of the invited members are women) and 11 per cent minority (41 per cent of the invited new members are people of colour). 

Currently, the academy's membership is 25 per cent female and eight per cent people of colour.

The youngest new member is 24, while the oldest is 91.

"This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today," Isaacs said.

"We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."

In 2012, the Los Angeles Times conducted a painstaking investigation into the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and found the institution to be overwhelmingly white, older and male (94 per cent Caucasian, 77 per cent male and a median age of 62) — indicative of the general state of Hollywood's decision-makers.

When the academy received widespread criticism for a second consecutive year of an all-white slate of Oscar acting nominees,its governing board reacted swiftly by hitting fast-forward on diversity efforts as well as making dramatic changes to its voting system, committees and setting a goal of doubling the number of diverse members by 2020.

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