Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and John Boyega Among 683 Invited to Join Academy in Largest, Most Diverse Class Yet

The new class comes in response to last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Less than a year after the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, the Academy has invited a record 683 new members in what is being called its largest and most diverse class ever.

The new attendees – of whom 46 percent are female and 41 percent are people of color – will significantly increase the diversity of the Academy, which is largely white and male. If all accept, Academy membership will be up to 27 percent female and 11 percent people of color – a 2 percent and 3 percent increase in each category, respectively.

Among the new invitees are Idris Elba and Michael B. Jordan – two actors who were widely considered to be overlooked for Oscar nominations last year. Elba’s performance in Beasts of No Nation won him top acting honors at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but was snubbed for the Academy’s honors.

America Ferrera, Anthony Anderson, Regina King and Star Wars: The Force Awakens breakout star John Boyega are also on the list. Boyega would be the Academy’s youngest member at 24.

“I wish a huge congratulations to all the new members,” Boyega said on Instagram. “This is a shift in a positive direction. Always a blessing to be one of the many Oscar voters that will hopefully spark change.”

The top acting winners of last year, including Brie Larson and Mark Rylance were also invited, alongside Emma Watson, Tom Hiddleston, Rachel McAdams and Rose Byrne

A full list of invited members can be found here.

Last year, 322 invitees were announced – fewer than half the number invited this year. This year, the Academy also invited 283 new international members from 59 countries.

“We’re proud to welcome these new members to the Academy, and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement, adding the invitation was an opportunity for Hollywood to “open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”

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The #OscarsSoWhite controversy sprang up last year after the Academy came under fire for failing to nominate any actors of color for the second year in a row. Well-known Hollywood black stars like Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smithskipped the 88th annual awards in response.

Last year’s Oscars host Chris Rock addressed the uproar throughout the ceremony, saying in his monologue: “it’s not about boycotting, it’s just we want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities. That’s it.”

In response to the outrage, the Academy unanimously voted in January for sweeping rule changes, promising to double the diversity of its members by 2020 by adding 500 non-white members and 1,500 female members in the next five years.

According to its website, the Academy s membership process is by sponsorship, not application. “Candidates must be sponsored by two Academy members from the branch to which the candidate seeks admission,” the site reads. “Nominees and sponsored candidates are reviewed by branch committees and recommendations for membership are considered by the Academy s Board of Governors. The Board decides which individuals will receive invitations.”

Academy Award nominees are automatically considered for membership, however, and therefore do not require sponsors.

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