Oscars organizers invite new members in diversity push

Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:19pm EDT
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Organizers of the Oscars, facing an outcry over the lack of diversity on its voting board for the film awards, said on Wednesday it has invited nearly 700 new members with a focus on female and minority talent.

Actors Idris Elba, America Ferrera, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Eva Mendes and this year's Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson were among the 683 potential new members, the academy said in a statement.

Forty-six percent of those invited are female and 41 percent are people of color, aged 24 to 91, said the organization, whose members also include directors, producers, cinematographers and composers.

"This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today," Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in the statement.

"We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."

All 20 acting Oscar nominees this year were white for a second consecutive year, prompting criticism with the online hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Oscars host Chris Rock provided biting commentary during the awards show, which was boycotted by director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

The largely white, male and older roster of film industry professionals who belong to the academy has long been cited as a barrier to racial and gender equality at the Oscars.

The organization responded by announcing a sweeping affirmative action program, pledging to double female and minority membership by 2020.   Continued...

Actor Idris Elba arrives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" in the Manhattan borough of New York, May 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson