Hollywood’s most exclusive club — the Film Academy — is aiming to expand its network of members by adding some new faces to the bunch.
On Tuesday, the Film Academy announced that they’ve invited 819 new members of the global film community to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
This new push for more diversity began in the wake of the controversial #OscarsSoWhite campaign back in 2016. The hashtag changed the oral history of the Oscars, pointing out the entrenched racial disparities.
Today, the Film Academy stands at having a total membership of 9,412, with 45 percent being women and 36 percent people of color. Plus, 49 percent are people based outside of the U.S., Variety reports.
“The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences,” Academy president, David Rubin, said in a statement reported by The Hollywood Reporter. “We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now.”
According to Variety, the Academy promised in 2016 — as part of its A2020 initiative — to at least double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities by this year.
“Through dedicated and intentional work by the Board of Governors and members on the branch executive committees, the Academy has surpassed both these goals,” the organization said.
This year’s invitees are pleased to see the Academy finally take steps to diversify their pool of members to give more racial groups a chance to snag awards the way their white counterparts do.
Filmmaker Lulu Wang, one of this year’s invitees, noted to the Los Angeles Times how she was often questioned as to why her highly-regarded 2019 indie film, “The Farewell,” didn’t receive any nominations.
“Awards are chosen by your peers, and when, in some ways, the academy does not represent a committee of my peers, there’s a disconnect,” she told the Times. “Why should I expect to be rewarded by those people? So changing the landscape of the academy so that it actually better represents the audience, the people, the different kinds of experiences, the different demographics of people coming into the industry, that’s really exciting.”
In previous years, the Academy limited its list of annual invitations to close to 100 invites, but that changed drastically after the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag damaged their public image, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The Academy’s chief executive, Dawn Hudson, made a note that although this new push is making some much-needed changes, their work is far from over.
“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one,” Hudson said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to foster an academy that reflects the world around us in our membership, our programs, our new Museum, and in our awards.”
A full list of this year’s new members can be found here.