The Oscars Have Reached A Diversity Milestone Thanks To Zendaya, Lulu Wang & More

Photo: Christian Gilles/Newspix/Getty Images.
The Oscars ceremony may have been postponed until April 2021, but the new Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences class is here — and it’s better than ever.
Zendaya, Ana de Armas, Awkwafina, Beanie Feldstein, Olivia Wilde, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Constance Wu, Niecy Nash, Yalitza Aparicio and Cynthia Erivo are among the 819 artists and executives invited to join the Academy in 2020, which means they’ll be able to vote on the 2021 Oscar nominees. The new class marks a turning point for the Academy, which has come under fire in recent years for the lack of diversity within its ranks. 
Parasite, which made history when it become the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture, ushered in 13 new members all by itself, including five members of its phenomenal cast (Park So-Dam, Lee Jung-Eun, Jo Yeo-Jeong Jang Hye-Jin and Choi Woo-Shik), one costume designer, one composer, one film editor, one production designer, one sound technician, and a writer. 
In the directors category, new additions include Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Alma Har'el (Honey Boy), Mati Diop (Atlantics), and Ari Aster (Midsommar), all of which were ironically overlooked by the Oscars last year.
Matthew Cherry, who won an Oscar in February for his animated short film Hair Love, was also among the new members tapped to join, along with producer Ryan Murphy.
In 2016, after two years of #OscarsSoWhite, the organisation in charge of Hollywood’s biggest night vowed to double membership for people of colour and women by 2020. With this new class — which breaks down to 45% women, 36% people of colour, and 49% international — it has managed to surpass that goal. In the past four years, the overall number of women members has doubled from 1,446 to 3,179, while the number of members from underrepresented communities has tripled, going from 554 to 1,787. 
Still, the Academy shouldn’t pat itself on the back just yet. The reason it was able to achieve this ambitious goal is because the original numbers were so low in the first place. As Kyle Buchanan points out in the New York Times, people of colour still make up only 19% of the overall membership, while women account for just 33%. What’s more, the 2020 Oscar acting nominations (and winners) were still overwhelmingly white, and, as Issa Rae so memorably pointed out, no women were nominated in the director’s category. Again. 
Hopefully, this new class will be able to make sure 2021 isn’t more of the same. 
In a tweet thanking the Academy, Wang perfectly summed up the challenge ahead. 
“Very excited to be a new member of @TheAcademy with so many brilliant minds,” she wrote. “Though there is still much work to be done, this class looks more like an actual jury of our PEERS than ever before, so that's a step in the right direction. Onwards!”

More from Movies

R29 Original Series