Elba, Ferrera part of new diverse Academy class

Invited members are 41% people of color, 46% female

- Bryan Alexander @BryAlexand USA TODAY

Idris Elba, John Boyega, Nate Parker, Marlon Wayans, America Ferrera and Alicia Vikander have all been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as part of a new diverse class of 2016.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the 683 invitees Wednesday. “(We) know they view this as an opportunit­y and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” her statement said.

The class, a record size, is 46% female and 41% people of color.

Diversity has been a major initiative for the group since the #OscarsSoWh­ite outcry in January, when the academy nominated an entirely white slate of actors for a second year in a row.

Boone Isaacs and academy CEO Dawn Hudson announced a goal of doubling the number of female and minority members by 2020.

The new class, should each invitee accept, would raise the academy’s percentage of female members from 25% to 27% and members of color from 8% to 11%. The 2016 class includes 283 internatio­nal members from 59 countries.

“This class continues our longterm commitment to welcoming extraordin­ary talent reflective of those working in film today,” Boone Isaacs wrote. “We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider.”

Among actors, the new members include Mahershala Ali, Chadwick Boseman, Rose Byrne, Enrique Castillo, Morris Chestnut, Vivica A. Fox, Oscar Isaac, Dennis Haysbert, O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, Michelle Rodriguez, Gabrielle Union, Damon Wayans Jr. and Emma Watson.

For the director’s branch, members include Creed’s Ryan Coogler, Beasts of No Nation’s Cary Joji Fukunaga, Conjuring’s James Wan and Belle’s Amma Assante.

Music branch members include Mary J. Blige, Sia Furler and

Hudson told USA TODAY in January that the academy aims to get its membership “closer to our moviegoing population and our United States population.” She added that the academy’s board of governors was “impatient” to make changes.

Shawn Edwards, co-founder of the African-American Film Critics Associatio­n, applauded the announceme­nt.

“We’re getting a chance to see (the academy’s) game plan play out. We’re starting to see it happen,” Edwards says. “It’s a clear sign the academy is serious about making its population reflect the nation’s population. We’re heading in that right direction.”

Pete Hammond, awards columnist for the industry website, says he’s impressed by the “high standards” for new members. He also praised the internatio­nal outreach for the new class (including 80-yearold British director Ken Loach) and the number of female directors invited.

“Of the 90 new directors, over 50 of them are women,” Hammond says. “This is huge for this branch to have this many new women members for what used to be a boys’ club.”

He points out that the academy is still overwhelmi­ngly white male, so efforts to diversify will have to continue.

“It’s going to be a long slog,” he says. “But this could affect actual Oscar votes even this year. We don’t want to see #OscarsSo WhiteIII, but ultimately it’s a democracy, and it’s up to the individual academy members.”

 ?? TOMMASO BODDI, WIREIMAGE ?? Actress America Ferrera
TOMMASO BODDI, WIREIMAGE Actress America Ferrera
 ?? PHOTOS BY AFP/GETTY IMAGES; GETTY IMAGES, FILMMAGIC ?? Michelle Rodriguez, Idris Elba, Gabrielle Union and Oscar Isaac are among a record 683 invitees.
PHOTOS BY AFP/GETTY IMAGES; GETTY IMAGES, FILMMAGIC Michelle Rodriguez, Idris Elba, Gabrielle Union and Oscar Isaac are among a record 683 invitees.

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