It's always been hard to get into the Academy, but these days it helps to be young, gifted and black. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has extended invitations to 276 artists and executives to join the organization, 100 more than they invited last year.
Of late, AMPAS has been anxious to improve the membership's dominant white male senior demo by inviting a diverse and youthful slate of members, many of them women. Of course, the members reflect the industry of which they are the leaders, but the recent LAT study showing that Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, with blacks comprising about 2% of the Academy, and Latinos at less than 2%, are disturbing indeed. According to the study, Oscar voters have a median age of 62, and folks younger than 50 make up 14% of members.
Among the invitees to the Academy's largest branch are actors Jason Bateman, Michael Pena, Lucy Liu, Rosario Dawson, Kimberly Elise, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, action star Milla Jovovich, Jennifer Lopez, Jason Schwartzman and on the senior side, last year's best actress nominee for "Amour," Parisian Emmanuelle Riva.
Directors invited to join the Academy include "Middle of Nowhere" helmer Ava DuVernay, Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight"), Steve McQueen ("Shame"), 2013 "Beasts of the Southern Wild" nominee Benh Zeitlin, controversial Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and 2013 foreign-language nominee Pablo Larrain ("No"). The Academy also welcomed more documentary filmmakers than usual --42 over last year's 11--to join the small branch of 173 members, from French auteur Agnes Varda to Oscar-nominated "The Invisible War" producer Amy Ziering.
On the writers' side are invites to some of the strongest female voices in entertainment, including Lena Dunham, Sarah Polley and Julie Delpy. Rising star filmmakers Rian Johnson ("Looper") and Jeff Nichols ("Mud") also join the group.
The Academy usually adds a few new members to each branch; thus an array of cinematographers, editors, producers (Jason Blum of "Paranormal Activity" fame), designers, animators(TV's Matt Groening, "The Simpsons Movie"), composers (Prince), executives (new Warner studio chief Kevin Tsujihara) and other film craftspeople also got coveted invites in the mail.
The complete list of prospective 2013 members is on the Academy website and below: