The 2016 Oscars gained a lot of flack for the lack of diversity among nominees, so much so that the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite sparked national debate, and Spike Lee along with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith went as far as to boycott the Academy Awards altogether. In response, Cheryl Boone Isaacs (president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), issued a statement that both apologized and promised change in the near future. The Academy soon after voted unanimously toward amending membership rules and stated the ultimate goal is to double the amount of diverse members by 2020. The first step toward achieving that goal was revealed this week.
The Academy invited a record-breaking 683 new members, a pool of people that consists of 46 percent female and 41 percent people of color. Though, when combined with the total Academy membership, females still only make up 27 percent — a two percent increase — with people of color only totaling 11 percent — a three percent increase.
New members include John Boyega of Star Wars fame (he’s the youngest member at 24), Idris Elba, Brie Larson, Kate Beckinsdale, Michael B. Jordan and Emma Watson, among hundreds more. Last year, only 322 invitees were announced, and in 2014 only 271 were invited.
“We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” Isaacs said in a statement. She also called for other entities within the creative community to open their doors wider as to “create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”
But so far, aside from simply inviting more diverse members into the Academy — which was in part done by inviting more members in general — there’s still a long road ahead.
View a full list of the new members here.