Com­mon, David Oyelowo di­ver­sify film academy fol­low­ing crit­i­cism

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY SANDY CO­HEN

Af­ter wide­spread crit­i­cism of the film academy’s over­whelm­ingly white slate of Os­car nom­i­nees this year, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has an­nounced a ros­ter of po­ten­tial new mem­bers that skews younger and more di­verse.

Kevin Hart, Com­mon, Emma Stone, Dev Pa­tel and “Whiplash” writer-di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle are among the 322 mem­ber­ship in­vi­tees an­nounced Fri­day.

“It’s re­ally grat­i­fy­ing to see the big in­creases in genre, peo­ple of color, age and na­tional ori­gin,” academy Pres­i­dent Ch­eryl Boone Isaacs said in an in­ter­view.

Oth­ers in­vited to join the academy in­clude Bene­dict Cum- berbatch, David Oyelowo, Ser­gio Men­des, El­iz­a­beth Banks, John Leg­end, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Hardy and “Dope” di­rec­tor Rick Fa­muyiwa.

Mem­ber­ship in the Academy of Mo­tion Pic­ture Arts and Sciences is by in­vi­ta­tion only. Os­car nom­i­nees are au­to­mat­i­cally con­sid­ered; oth­ers must be spon­sored by two mem­bers of their branch of film­mak­ing.

“We’ve stressed very much that our mem­bers in each branch, it’s their duty to re­ally pay at­ten­tion to a di­verse tal­ent pool, to those com­ing up, to those that may have been over­looked for mem­ber­ship,” Boone Isaacs said. “I think that ef­fort has paid off well this year.”

The nearly 6,000-mem­ber in­ter­na­tional group has long been crit­i­cized for its largely white, male mem­ber­ship.

All 20 of the act­ing nom­i­nees at the most re­cent Academy Awards were white, which i nspired t he hash­tag # Os­carsSoWhite on so­cial media and in­creased scru­tiny of the lack of di­ver­sity in the ranks of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The crit­i­cism was “part of the con­ver­sa­tion” that drove ex­ist­ing academy mem­bers to ac­tively seek new tal­ent in places they may not have or­di­nar­ily looked, Boone Isaacs said.

“It’s got­ten folks think­ing in a way that maybe they just hadn’t thought be­fore,” she said.

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