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Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Looks To Diversify Membership. New Invitees Of Note...

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by Tambay A. Obenson
July 2, 2012 9:15 AM
5 Comments
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Announced over the weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 176 new members into the organization on Friday.

According to an Los Angeles Times study published earlier this year, it was revealed that academy voters aren't as diverse than the moviegoing public they *serve.* Shocking, right?

The key stats:

- Oscar voters are about 94% Caucasian and 77% male. 

- Blacks are about 2% of the academy

- Latinos are less than 2%.

- Oscar voters have a median age of 62

- Voters under than 50 make up only 14% of the membership.

While I'm not at all shocked by the lack of diversity (and really, nobody should be), looking at the hard numbers in front of me does take me aback a bit. 

So who made the list of 176 new invitees this year, and just how diverse is that list of 176?

The Academy says that the 2012 class is 30% female and 14% nonwhite; so really, doesn't do a lot to change the current imbalance of power amongst voters.

Scrubbing through the list, the only new invitees of African descent that I found were: S. Epatha Merkerson, Octavia Spencer, Kerry Washington, Kasi Lemmons, Sam Pollard, Tracey Edmonds, and William Packer.

I wonder how they determine who to invite, because I'd think that some of these names would have already been invited in years past. Considering that Beyonce was invited last year, before several of the veterans/experienced invited this year, I'm perplexed. 

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5 Comments

  • Twilight123 | July 2, 2012 10:28 PMReply

    Members of the Academy only vote in their area of specialty (with the exception of the "Best Picture" category- which is a "free for all" membership vote). For example, Tracey Edmonds will probably be voting in the production categories (possibly also direction? I can't remember if she has ever actually directed anything or if she is solely a producer). Past winners are automatically inducted (ie/Octavia Spencer). Other members are inducted after some crazy ambiguous (and goes without saying- sexist, racist, ageist) vetting process. I say all of this to explain why Beyonce was inducted before some other veterans such as S. Epatha Merkerson.

    Bey was invited to join in the MUSIC BRANCH of the Academy, a category in which she surely qualified. She would only be voting on "best song" or "best score", etc. along with "best picture". She would NOT be voting in Best Actress (unless, of course she at some point becomes either a- becomes a credible enough actress to rejoin in the actors' branch or b- wins an oscar for an acting role. I think we are safe to say she won't be doing either anytime soon).

    Hopes that helps clarify this selection process for some folks. That's not to say that the academy isn't problematically white, old, and male. It most certainly is, and that needs to be fixed ASAP.

    Congrats to Kerry Washington, Tracey Edmonds, S. Epatha Merkerson, and everyone else joining the voting academy this year!

  • twilight123 | July 2, 2012 10:47 PM

    I admit when I am corrected. I could have sworn I read a few times last year that it was for Music, not for Acting. But if I'm wrong, my apologies for the confusion. I stand by the rest of my commentary, however.

    That being said, it had to be Jamie Foxx and Oprah Winfrey. Can't imagine that it was Jennifer Hudson under any circumstances. Could have also been Will Smith (if he's a member)- the Carters and the Smiths roll deep these days.

  • Cordell | July 2, 2012 10:34 PM

    Twlight123,

    Beyonce was invited into the acting branch last year. Actors are usually invited if they are able to get sponsored by two Academy members. I'm assuming Beyonce's sponsors were Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson/Oprah Winfrey.

  • Donella | July 2, 2012 7:33 PMReply

    I agree. Good list. An Academy with any degree of insight and thoughtfulness would feel fully embarrassed of its supremacy in that its membership does not reflect male:female ratios of the North American population, nor racial ratios.

  • Dankwa Brooks | July 2, 2012 1:19 PMReply

    Sounds like a great bunch of new invitees. Can't disagree with any in the bunch.

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