Academy Responds to #OscarsSoWhite Criticism With 683 New Members

By Sameer Rao Jun 30, 2016

In the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ board pledged to restructure its governance and increase its internal diversity. It took a major step in that direction with yesterday’s (June 29) announcement of its 2016 class of new members.

"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," said Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs in a statement accompanying the announcement. The incoming class of 683 members—the Academy’s largest ever—is 46 percent female and 41 percent people of color, and represents 60 countries.

The thespians, directors, designers and other cinema professionals inducted make the Academy’s overall membership 27 percent female and 11 percent people of color. According to Variety, both percentages increased two and three percent, respectively, from last year.

The new class includes several notable performers and creators of color who have vocally criticized Hollywood’s erasure of people of color and structural racism before, during and after the #OscarsSoWhite outrage. Actors Michael B. Jordan ("Creed"), America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty"), Daniel Dae Kim ("Hawaii Five-0") and Gabrielle Union ("Being Mary Jane") are all members of the new class. Directors Amma Asante ("Belle"), Ryan Coogler ("Creed"), Nate Parker ("The Birth of a Nation") and Julie Dash ("Daughters of the Dust") were also inducted.

Read the full list of inductees here.