Oscar statues dry in the sunlight after receiving a fresh coat of gold paint. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
Oscar statues dry in the sunlight after receiving a fresh coat of gold paint. Picture: REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

Los Angeles — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Monday that it has swelled its ranks by a record 928 members, as part of its drive for a more inclusive Hollywood.

The Oscar-awarding body announces a round of invitations every year, and has been bolstering its ethnically diverse and female representation following criticism over its predominantly white, male membership.

More than a third of the list — drawn from 59 countries — are people of colour, while about half are women, bringing the female proportion of the Academy up from 25% in 2015 to 31%. The proportion of people of colour doubled in the same period, but started from a low bar of just 8%.

The recruits include 17 Oscar winners and 92 nominees, including Timothée Chalamet, Kumail Nanjiani, Daniela Vega and Yance Ford. "Aggressively expanding the palette of perspectives within the 90-year-old organisation’s ranks is the goal," said Variety’s awards editor Kristopher Tapley.

"Nine hundred twenty-eight new members is more than a statement, it’s a declaration. Next year, the number will likely be north of 1,000 and the overall membership will tip the scales at 10,000. It was nearly half that just seven or eight years ago."

If all the 2018 invitees accept, voting members will be 8,186 and total active membership 8,356.

The list includes Native Americans such as Westworld star Irene Bedard, Q’orianka Kilcher from Hostiles and Wind River actor Tantoo Cardinal, as well as numerous Asian and Spanish-language creatives.

Marvel’s Black Panther is rewarded for its ground-breaking success with invitations for Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya and rapper Kendrick Lamar, who produced the soundtrack.

Roman Polanski may recently have been expelled over his historic statutory rape charges in the US but his wife, the actress Emmanuelle Seigner, will be in charge of Oscar voting if she takes up her invitation. Kobe Bryant, who was given an Oscar for animated short Dear Basketball, despite accusations he has always denied that he raped a 19-year-old hotel worker, was not invited.

AFP

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