As promised, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences took some real action in an attempt to diversify its ranks as well as its Oscar nominees this year. On Wednesday, it announced that a record 683 new members had been invited to join (more than twice last year's list), and 41% of those were nonwhite. Among the new invitees of color are Ice Cube, John Boyega, America Ferrera, Anika Noni Rose, Damon Wayans Jr., Idris Elba, Michelle Rodriguez, Gabrielle Union, and Michael B. Jordan. Other new members include Rose Byrne, Dakota Johnson, Emma Watson, Rachel McAdams, and transgender directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski.
After the #OscarsSoWhite uproar about 2015's Oscar nominees, which did not include any actors of color, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs vowed to change the way members are selected. But with more than 7000 members already, the organization won't be able to shift its demographics much with just one new class. With old and new members combined, the Academy makeup is now 27% female (up from 25%), and members of color went up from 8% to 11%. In a statement released this week, Boone Isaacs placed some of the responsibility for diversification on the rest of the filmmaking industry, too.
"This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today," she said. "We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry." The new members took to Twitter to celebrate this first step.