Almost five months after #OscarsSoWhite trended nationwide on social media platforms, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced new attempts to diversify its membership. More than 600 industry professionals—41 percent of whom are people of color and 46 percent of whom are female—have been invited to join the Academy, 283 of them being international members representing 59 countries. New members include the likes of John Boyega of Star Wars fame and actress Brie Larson. A handful of others were also invited: Emma Watson, Michael B. Jordan, America Ferrera, Freida Pinto, Eva Mendes, Gabrielle Union and many, many more. The increase represents a three percent hike in minority membership.
The changes—no doubt inspired by adverse reactions to the 2016 Academy Awards, which featured a total of zero non-white acting nominees—are allegedly part of a larger, pre-existing initiative by the Academy to double racial and gender diversity of its members by 2020.
An admirable (though, delayed) move, the Academy’s decision raises an important consideration about diversity in Hollywood: it’s not just about on-screen diversity. It’s equally important to have a diverse group of people acting in feature films, as it is to have them assessing the value of these films.
It’s a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.