Academy welcomes 842 new members, half of them women

NEW YORK (AP) — The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Monday invited 842 members from 59 countries to the Oscars organisation and, for the first time, reached gender parity in its new class of inductees.

Half of the new invitees to the film academy are women. In 10 of the 17 branches — including the directing, writing and producing branches — more women than men were invited.

This year’s class of new members also includes 29 per cent people of colour.

That’s a notable turnaround for an organisation that has sought to diversity its ranks following criticism for all-white acting nominees in 2015 and 2016.

Since 2015, the group’s overall female membership has grown from 25 per cent to 32 per cent, the academy said. Overall membership of people of colour has doubled, from eight per cent to 16 per cent.

To aid in the swift overhaul of the academy, the group last year invited a record 928 members.

While smaller, this year’s class still ranks as one of the academy’s largest in its 92-year history. New invitees include Lady Gaga, Sterling K Brown, Claire Foy, Letitia Wright, Tom Holland and Adele.

Newly invited directors include Crazy Rich Asians filmmaker Jon Chu, The Babadook director Jennifer Kent and the filmmaking duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

If most accept their invites, the film academy will number more than 9,000 members.

Next year’s Academy Awards will be held on February 9, several weeks earlier than usual.

ABOVE & BELOW: Sterling K Brown, Letitia Wright, Lady Gaga, Claire Foy, Tom Holland and singer Adele, who are among 842 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. – PHOTOS: AP