The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Science has invited various 683 filmmakers, artists and executives, among them Malian film director Souleymane Cisse to vote in next year’s Oscars, following major protests over lack of diversity among nominees over the last two years.
The exclusion of black people from this year’s Oscars nominations caused an outrage and renowned director, Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith led from the front and boycotted the Academy Awards ceremony in February.
The outrage was sparked by the exclusion of non-white artists and directors from the awards despite stellar performances from actors such as Idris Elba and Abraham Attah (both in Beasts of No Nation), and Will Smith (for his role in Concussion), among others.
Quincy Jones, also criticised the Academy for the lack of diversity (although he attended the ceremony) and Reverend Al Sharpton led protesters over the issue.
The public outrage was so immense that the issue trended on social media under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.
Following the flak from artists and directors, Oscars head Cheryl Boone Isaacs promised to take dramatic action, “in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond”.
While many have been sceptical of Isaacs’ assurances to take dramatic action, in a statement, she reiterated the organisation’s commitment to welcome “extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today” and encouraged inclusivity in the industry.
The list includes, Malian film director Souleymane Cisse, actors: Idris Elba, Anthony Anderson, John Boyega, Morris Chestnut, actresses Gabrielle Union, Nia Long and Vivica A. Fox among others artists.
Although it’s a welcome development, the new membership will only increase the Academy’s non-white membership by three percentage points to 11 percent.