One January morning over three years ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented that year’s Oscar nominees. Ten men and ten women were nominated in the acting categories. And all twenty of them were white. It was the whitest acting slate since 1995.
But as appalling as that outcome was, consider the makeup of the Academy at the time: Its membership was 93 percent white and 76 percent male.
The following year — in which the award-season contenders included such films as Beasts of No Nation, Straight Outta Compton, Creed, and Chi-Raq — it happened again: Zero nominees of color in the acting categories. April Reign’s hashtag, #OscarsSoWhite, blazed across Twitter, and AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs acknowledged that “it’s time for big changes… the change is not coming as fast as we would like. We need to do more, and better and more quickly.”
Among other plans to diversify its ranks, the academy announced it would “be actively recruiting new members.” And the 2016 class began to fulfill that promise, inducting the likes of Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, and future Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan. Of the 683 inductees, 46 percent were female, which brought the total representation of women in the academy up to 27 percent from 25 percent. People of color made up 41 percent of the new class, which brought the non-white contingent in the academy up to 11 percent from a measly 8 percent.
On Monday, the academy announced the 2018 class, its biggest yet. The organization is extending invitations to 928 people. Among their ranks are the only indisputably good thing about the past year, Tiffany Haddish; The Big Sick writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon; god of the Harry Potter universe J.K. Rowling; Black Panther co-stars Danai Gurira and Daniel Kaluuya; comedians Mindy Kaling, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Ken Jeong, Hannibal Buress, and Dave Chappelle; Dear White People writer-director Justin Simien; musicians Kendrick Lamar and Questlove; and Jane the Virgin father-daughter dream team Jaime Camil and Gina Rodriguez. (The full list is here.)
As Variety reports, the potential new class (they’ll need to accept the invitations before it’s official) is 49 percent female, 38 percent people of color — which increases female representation from 28 to 31 percent, and artists’ of color’s representation from 13 to 16 percent.