For decades, many have been concerned about the lack of diversity within the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the group who votes on the Oscars. Today, AMPAS made another step towards adding diverse voices to the prestigious awards body. According to the Academy’s website, 928 new members were extended invitations to join the Academy for the upcoming 2019 Oscars. This will give these individuals the opportunity to help decide next years nominees and eventual winners. Barring extreme controversy, this also gives these individuals a place at the table to vote on Oscars for the rest of their careers.
This year comes with some extremely exciting names to add to the ranks. Kumail Nanjiani, Daniel Kaluuya, Mindy Kaling, Daisey Ridley, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kal Penn, and Michael K. Williams are just some of the many actors and actresses to gain admission. Directors like Craig Gillespie (“I, Tonya”), Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie“) joined an international heavy class. Nanjiani also received admission as a writer, as did fellow scribes J.K. Rowling, Jonathon Nolan, and Sean Baker (who also got in as a director). It’s a very cool list that is well worth checking out.
Since 2015, the Academy has pushed hard at included new voices into its ranks. The #OscarSoWhite twitter campaigns in back-to-back years were an embarrassment for the organization. It’s hard to recognize greatness when those within our communities are unable to have their voices heard. The largest increases have occurred for people of color, who went from representing 8% of the Academy in 2015 to 16% for the upcoming Oscar year. Women now make up 31% of the Academy after 49% of this class was made up of women.
Whether or not moviegoers want to admit it, the increased diversity of the Academy is a great thing. As the size of this voting body increases, so too will the populism that is featured. Films like “Get Out,” “Moonlight,” “Lady Bird,” or “The Shape of Water” getting nominations may not be uncommon anymore. Instead, films like “Hereditary,” “Black Panther” or “Infinity War” may have a fighting chance to grab a nomination. It may feel unlikely, but when the numbers add up this much, a strong devotion to genre may actually help a film, not hurt it. It’s another good day for the Academy, and we welcome the hundreds of new members.
Who is your favorite member? Let us hear in the comments below!