One of the most exclusive clubs in the world just got a whole lot bigger.
In the latest and most dramatic step by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to diversify the overwhelmingly white and male institution, 683 industry professionals were invited Wednesday to join the nearly 90-year-old organization.
The group of invitees, which included Idris Elba, Brie Larson, John Boyega, America Ferrera, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman, was touted as the academy’s largest and most diverse new class ever, more than double the 322 members invited last year.
The academy’s expansion is part of a diversity push that took on heightened urgency this year in the #OscarsSoWhite uproar, which reached a fever pitch in the run-up to this year’s awards telecast.
In January, facing blistering criticism over the lack of nominations for any actors of color for the second year in a row, academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced sweeping changes aimed at doubling the number of women and minorities — then about 1,500 and 535, respectively — in the academy’s ranks by 2020. “The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” Boone Isaacs said in a statement announcing the new initiative.
In an interview following Wednesday’s announcement, Boone Isaacs said that the large and diverse class is the result a concerted campaign to show that the academy is opening its arms to groups that have been underrepresented.
“What we found is that, as much we tried to get the information out there, it wasn’t penetrating in a way that we wanted it to,” Boone Isaacs said. “So we’ve asked all our members to be the ambassadors and pay attention to men and women who have particular skill levels in their area of expertise and get them encouraged and tell us their names so that we can make sure and reach out and connect.”
According to the academy’s figures, the new class is 46% female, bringing the representation of women in the organization from 25% to 27%. Forty-one percent of the invitees are people of color, bringing minorities’ share of total academy membership from 8% to 11%.
Other names on the list include actors Emma Watson, Tina Fey, Oscar Isaac, Tom Hiddleston and Ice Cube and directors Ryan Coogler, Julie Dash, Adam McKay and Patty Jenkins.