Founded in 1927, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the most renowned movie-related organization of today. Its establishment was grounded in the goals of recognizing and upholding excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences, inspiring imagination, and connecting the world through the medium of motion pictures. This professional honorary institution, which invites figures from various fields to join its ranks annually, announced that it had opened its doors to 395 new members.
“To enable steady future growth and to ensure the necessary infrastructure, staff resources, and environment to support all Academy members, the number invited to membership was limited to roughly half that of recent years,” said the Academy in a statement. 2021 marks the year where the Academy has considerably tightened its new membership numbers, a move that follows the massive expansion it has done in the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite uproar. The hashtag, created by April Reign on January 15, 2015, was in response to the Academy awarding all twenty acting nominations to white actors. In 2016, it drew flak once again when it revealed its roster of acting nominations — all given to white actors.
With the long-running inequities and the lack of representation in the film industry given a spotlight and triggering a wide scale clamor for more inclusivity, AMPAS expressed the goal of diversifying the personalities that would come on board by 2020, a goal that, once met, would transform the Academy Awards voting body. Last year, the organization released a statement revealing that it has completed the objective of doubling the number of women and underrepresented ethnic and racial communities.
On Thursday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dropped its list of invitees. Among the members of class 2021 are H.E.R., Janet Jackson, Jon Batiste, Amanda Brown, Len Calvo, Dernst Emile II, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, Aska Matsumiya, Emile Mosseri, Meshell Ndegeocello, Leslie Odom, Jr., Lolita Ritmanis, Lisbeth Scott, Adam Milo Smalley, Tiara Thomas, Pinar Toprak, and Amelia Warner. Their membership in the organization was based not only on their professional qualifications but also on their contributions to the field.
In the case of the Grammy Award-winning H.E.R., her contributions to Judas and the Black Messiah were cited. In addition, the American singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer Janet Jackson received nods for her performance in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, and Poetic Justice.
To a certain extent, the list of this year’s invitees is inarguably diverse. 46% of the upcoming members are women, while 39% come from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities. Notably, 53% come from 49 countries outside of the United States. If these well-respected and acknowledged professionals in front and behind the camera accept the invitation, they would be given voting privileges at next year’s Oscars.
It remains to be seen if this diversification will manifest itself in the slate of nominees that the 94th Academy Awards will release and impact the movement toward more representation and inclusivity in the film industry.
Learn more about The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by visiting its website.