After the #OscarSoWhite controversy this year, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Board of Governors vowed to make changes to diversify the Academy’s membership.  The goal was to DOUBLE the number of women and minority members of the Academy by 2020.  At the beginning of the year, Oscar voters were nearly 94 percent Caucasian and 77 percent male, and the average age of the voters ranged from 62 to 63.

Today, the Academy announced its 2016 membership class which consists of 683 actors, filmmakers, executives, and behind the scenes talent from 59 countries across the globe.  28 new members are Oscar winners, and they range from ages 24 to 91.  The number of invites tripled from 2014, and doubled the number (322) from last year.  Of the 683 invited, 46% are women which will make the Academy 27% female rather than 25%.  By adding 41% new members who are people of  color, the percentage changes from 8% to 11%.

“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.  This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today. 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” – Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Academy Members 2016

Among those invited were Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Lorraine Toussaint, Vivica A. Fox, Adepero Oduye, Tessa Thompson, Gabrielle Union, Nia Long, Regina King, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Sanaa Hamri, Euzhan Palcy, Dee Rees, Shola Lynch, Dawn Porter, Erica Huggins, Debra Martin Chase, and more.  For the complete list click HERE.

Today’s announcement is great news for the Academy and for Hollywood at large.  This transition will not be easy; however, the leadership of Cheryl Boone Isaacs is admirable as she begins to change the face of an 88 year old institution.  Even with all of the new additions to the Academy, women currently make up 27 percent of overall membership, while people of color make up only 11 percent.  It will take time before it can achieve real equality; however it seems like they are well on their way!

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The HBR Media Team is a collective group of black women filmmakers, writers, and studio/network executives who are passionate about bringing visibility to women of African descent working in film and television.

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