Sunday, July 24, 2016

AMPAS' new invitees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, following this year's huge controversy (#OscarsSoWhite) about the complete lack of African-American nominees in its acting categories for the second year in a row, pledged to double its number of female and minority voters by 2020.

A few weeks ago they announced they had extended an invitation to join the Academy to 683 new members from 59 countries. The breakdown is 46% female and 41% minority.

Among the potential new members are Idris Elba, Chadwick Boseman, Eva Mendes, America Ferrera, and Anika Noni Rose.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The 2016 group of invitees is the academy's largest ever and more than doubles last year's class, said President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. 
She said the academy has worked for several years to diversify its largely white, male membership. Last year's #OscarsSoWhite movement amplified that conversation. 
The academy announced sweeping changes to its recruitment and voting practices in January after a second straight year of all-white acting nominees for the Academy Awards. 
[...] "We have recognized diverse talent throughout our history," she said. "What is of-the-now is how expansive and diverse our industry has become." 
She said academy members have been energized by the mandate to bring emerging or overlooked talents into their ranks. 
"It's been like a charge of electricity," she said.
More names from The Wrap:
Invitees were rolled out following a meeting on Tuesday night, at which the Academy’s board of governors reviewed and voted on prospective new members who were submitted by committees from each of the organization’s 17 branches. 
Actors invited to join the Academy include Michael B. Jordan, Oscar Isaac, Ryan Coogler, Cary Fukunaga Anthony Anderson, Adam Beach, Kate Beckinsale, Chadwick Boseman, John Boyega, Carmen Ejogo, Idris Elba, America Ferrera, Greta Gerwig, Carla Gugino, Tom Hiddleston, Regina King, Patti LuPone, Rachel McAdams, Nate Parker, Anika Noni Rose, Emma Watson and Marlon Wayans.
The Wrap also makes an interesting point about a potential issue with next year's list of new members:
AMPAS invited hundreds of women and minorities to join, but they’ll have to do it again and again to reach their goal. 
If the Motion Picture Academy’s goal is to dramatically increase the number of women and minorities in its membership, Wednesday’s list of the 683 people who will be invited to join the Academy this year is a very good start. 
[...] The Academy is trying hard to remake its 92 percent white, 75 percent male makeup. 
[...] But if you look at the Academy’s own figures, the task of doubling the number of women and minority members will require them to do what they did this week again in 2017 and 2018 and 2019 and 2020. 
And since the Academy looked far and wide to assemble an enormous, and enormously diverse, roster of invitees this year, it could be significantly harder to hit the same kind of numbers year after year. 
To double the number of women in the Academy, for instance, the AMPAS stats say that they’ll need to add about 1,700 female members between 2016 and 2020. This year, they added more than 300 — but that still would require adding almost 350 per year for the next four years to hit their declared target. 
That means the Academy will need to find and admit more women than they did this year, when the size of their outreach broke all records. 
Hitting the goal for people of color, though, might be easier. This year’s roster includes about 280 members of racial minority groups, which is more than halfway to the 501 that would be needed to double the existing number of members of color.
If coming up with this year's list took a considerable effort, then having to do even more and for several years won't be an easy task.

Still, I think the Academy should be applauded.

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