It's no secret that Hollywood has a race and gender problem: In 2016, women directed just 7% of the top 250 films and, prior to 2017, just 7.8% of Oscar winners in acting categories were non-white.
Although there is absolutely a whole lot of room for improvement, the 2017 Oscar winners were encouraging: Two out of the four acting awards went to African-Americans, and Moonlight brought home the much-deserved Oscar for Best Picture. (But please don't get me started on the fact that it had to share the spotlight with La La Land thanks to #envelopegate.)
Social media movements like #OscarsSoWhite aren't the only reason the tide is turning. In 2016, the Academy extended 41% of its membership invitations to people of color and it resulted in a more balanced group of winners.
This year, the Academy is continuing the trend. Today, it released a list of 774 new invitees who hail from 57 different countries. The list is comprised of 39% females and 30% people of color, which will increase overall totals in both those categories.
Although members aren't officially confirmed until they accept their invitations, a look at the acting branch shows a more diverse group of faces. Invitees include Gal Gadot, Riz Ahmed, Priyanka Chopra, Janelle Monaé, Wanda Sykes, and Zoë Kravitz, to name a few. The youngest invitee is Elle Fanning, 19, and the oldest is Betty White, 95.
On the directing side, Barry Jenkins, Kim Ki-Duk, Kleber Mendoça Filho, and Takashi Miike received invites.
As we saw last year, diversity within the AMPAS is invaluable when it comes to bolstering the work of women and people of color. #OscarsSoWhite really needs to become ancient history sooner rather than later, and this year's invitee list is an encouraging step in the right direction.