In response to the controversy over the absence of any non-white actors in this year’s Oscar nominations, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has included many more women and minorities in its latest round of invitations, following up on an earlier pledge to diversify its voting membership, Michael Cieply reports at the New York Times:
By the academy’s count, 46 percent of this year’s 683 invitees are women, and 41 percent are minorities. Included were many of the stars and filmmakers who some felt were snubbed when the Oscar nominations were announced this year, including the director Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) and actors like Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”). But the academy still has a long way to go to reach its goals, and the pace of new membership could be hard to sustain. Even if all of the new invitees join, minority membership would rise to 11 percent from 8 percent, and the percentage of women would increase to 27 percent from 25 percent.
Many observers have said the root problem lies not with the academy, but with the film industry at large and the lack of opportunities it provides for women and minorities. In reaching for a more diverse membership, the academy moved well outside the United States, tapping new members from a total of 59 countries. The academy, which provided detailed statistics about its effort, said 283 of those invited were from outside the United States.
Improving the diversity of its own demographics is a good and necessary start, but as I pointed out in February, the bigger challenge for the Academy and the film industry as a whole is to effect cultural change and become more inclusive, as well as more diverse. In other words, it’s not enough for more women and people of color to join the Academy; they also have to feel welcome there, and not end up marginalized for being the “token diverse new members.” In addition, the Academy can put policies in place that enable its diversity and inclusion to get better organically, year over year, rather than simply relying on big classes of diverse talent to improve their statistics.