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The Academy members list, Lady Gaga, Letitia Wright
Letitia Wright in Black Panther and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born

The Academy increases members diversity, from Lady Gaga to Letitia Wright

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 2019 list is 50 per cent women and 29 per cent people of colour

In a necessary new move towards gender and racial parity, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has invited 842 new members to join its ranks – this year’s list includes new members from a record 59 countries – half of these are women and 29 per cent are people of colour, doubling the overall percentage of non-white members from 8 per cent to 16 per cent. There may be 99 people in the room, but you’ve got a few more to thank. 

Among the newly invited members are Lady Gaga, Elisabeth Moss, Crazy Rich Asians’ Gemma Chan, Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and Sterling K. Brown, making this the most diverse group of newcomers yet in the history of the organisation. The list includes 21 Oscar winners and 82 Oscar nominees, across actors, directors, writers, executives, makeup and hair artists, costume designers, and casting directors. 10 of those 17 Academy arms invited more women than men, including the directors branch; a forward-facing move, given that the top 250 feature films released in the US showed that only 8 per cent were directed by a woman. With this new slew of members, the Academy will have doubled the percentage of people of colour in four years.

The announcement is the latest in the Academy’s attempt to diversify its members since 2015’s #OscarsSoWhite, a protest against that year’s Oscar nominations and their lack of any diversity. In 2016, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced a diversity scheme to create a more representative membership and to double both women and people of colour by 2020. 

2018’s list included the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Daniel Kaluuya.

The 2019 Academy Awards reflected a much more diverse roster of winners and monumental moments, including Hannah Beachler’s history-making win as the first African American to take the award for production design on Black Panther. There was also Regina King’s If Beale Street Could Talk win and second-time winner Mahershala Ali’s award for Green Book, which made him the second black actor to win multiple acting Oscars. Spike Lee, who has openly criticised the Academy, bagged best adapted screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, and Alfonso Curaon scored big with his semi-autobiographical Roma, a film centred around an indigenous woman.

While this is a welcome change, the numbers overall remain pretty dire across the now-10,000 members list, and there’s still a long way to go if we want to see a shift in institutional attitudes across the board.

A full list of new invitees can be found here.