New Oscars voters include Billie Eilish, Ariana DeBose

With the film business still rebounding after more than two years of pandemic upheaval, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday that it will open its ranks to 397 new members as part of its ongoing effort to diversify its membership.

Representing 54 countries, the invitee list includes names in bold such as Ariana DeBose, Billie Eilish, Jamie Dornan and Anya Taylor-Joy, as well as many artists, filmmakers, executives and professionals whose names have never graced the marquee at a multiplex . The group includes 71 Oscar nominees, including The Lost Daughter star Jessie Buckley and The Power of the Dog nominee Jesse Plemons, as well as 15 past Oscar winners including CODA Supporting Actor winner Troy Kotsur.

As the Academy continues to push for greater inclusion both within the organization and in the industry at large, 44% of Class 2022 members identify as women and 37% hail from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities. Half are from outside the United States.

The announcement comes at a time when the academy is at a crossroads with an impending leadership change, as Academy Museum director Bill Kramer prepares to step down from current CEO Dawn Hudson to the position of chief executive of the organization next month take over, which has guided the academy through 11 transformative and at times turbulent years.

After the organization met its 2020 goal, set in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, of doubling the number of women and people of color in its membership ranks, the organization has slowed the pace of growth in recent years. This year’s invitee group is almost the same size as last year’s, which was 395.

While still significantly larger than the annual invitee groups of previous decades, which were capped at around 100 members by quotas, this year’s class is less than half the size of 2020’s class of 819 participants, which in turn was smaller than the record-breaking 2018 class , which weighed a gigantic 928.

Last year, the academy announced that it plans to return to more limited class sizes “to allow for continued future growth and to ensure the necessary infrastructure, human resources and environment to support all academy members.”

Including the new class, 34% of its members identify as women, according to the Academy, while 19% come from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, in line with last year’s benchmarks. In a landmark 2012 analysis, The Times reported that Oscar voters at the time were 94% white and 77% male.

Seven industries invited more women than men this year, including casting directors, costume designers, documentary filmmakers, producers, and marketing and public relations. Three branches attracted the majority of their candidates from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, including documentaries, directors and actors, by far the largest branches of the academy.

In the directors’ branch are Sian Heder, who won the award for an adapted screenplay for CODA this year, which took home the Oscar for best picture, and Reinaldo Marcus Green, whose “King Richard” also won an award for received the best film, among the invited guests. In the music industry, invitees include Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell, who won the Original Song Oscar for the theme song to the James Bond film No Time to Die.

The Academy’s announcement comes as inclusion issues continue to arise during Hollywood’s all-important awards season. Last year, a Times investigation highlighted the fact that the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the tiny group that distributes the Golden Globes, does not include black members, sparking a firestorm that eventually led to NBC’s announcement last month that they would pull the awards off the air for 2022.

The HFPA has since added new members, including 6 blacks. However, with some in the industry continuing to keep the group at bay, it’s still unclear if the Globes will make a televised comeback in 2023.

If everyone accepts her invitation, the total membership of the film academy will grow to 10,665, of which 9,665 are voting members.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-06-28/film-academy-new-members-billie-eilish-ariana-debose New Oscars voters include Billie Eilish, Ariana DeBose

Sarah Ridley

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