The Academy (Finally) Did Something About Oscars’ Diversity Problem

Ever seen the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite? Of course you have, and so has the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the governing body of the Academy Awards. It seems even the glaucoma-riddled old folks home at AMPAS could see it because they finally did something about Oscars’ diversity problem.

AMPAS has invited 819 new members, with 36 percent of that list people of color, according to a report by THR via the AMPAS press release attached to their self-aggrandizing tweet.

Many would say — alright, all would say — this move was pressured by today’s sociopolitical climate. To which, normal people would say, “So what.” And, they would probably add, “It’s about damn time.”

“The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences. We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now.”

Academy President David Rubin

Oscars Not-So-White?

It seems #OscarsSoWhite becomes a trivial hashtag every year during the world’s most star-studded evening; yet, Oscars’ diversity problem continues to be that glaring hole in the tapestry of Hollywood.

According to a 2018 study on AMPAS, the Academy is comprised of more than 8,000 voting members, with the raging majority being white old dudes. Although the Academy has added at least 2,000 members in the past three years, Oscars’ diversity problem is still a thing with the previous roster comprising of 16% people of color.

And that was up from a paltry 8% in 2015!

For decades, AMPAS has always been considered a “good ol’ boys’ club,” which is a popoular euphemism for “old white dudes.” Of course, the A-List and those of us who couldn’t make the list knew about Oscars’ diversity problem. And now, the Academy may represent the full spectrum of color that can actually be seen in Hollywood. This year’s invitations:

  • 45% women
  • 36% people of color
  • 49% people based outside the United States

This year has been different on a countless array of levels. For AMPAS, this is a year of recognition and reckoning. The 2020 list of invitees is indeed much more colorful with names of actors and directors like: Ana De Armas, Ari Aster, Awkwafina, Terence Davies, Cynthia Erivo, Beanie Feldstein, Alma Har’el, Brian Tyree Henry, Jang Hye-Jin, Florence Pugh, Lakeith Stanfield, Matthew Vaughn, John David Washington, Lulu Wan, and Constance Wu.

Speaking on behalf of Oscars’s diversity problem is Academy CEO Dawn Hudson:

“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one. We are committed to staying the course. I cannot give enough thanks to all our members and staff who worked on the A2020 initiative and to our head of Member Relations and Awards, Lorenza Munoz, for her leadership and passion in guiding us through to this point and helping to set the path going forward. We look forward to continuing to foster an Academy that reflects the world around us in our membership, our programs, our new Museum and in our awards.”

Not quite the work demanding a standing O, AMPAS, but at least, you got us clapping. Bravo!


Featured Image Credit: Al Seib/Los Angeles Times

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