Today the Academy released the names and statistics of their newest 842 members. This year’s new members include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Sony SVP Ellene V. Miles and the rest of the Black Panther cast that hadn’t already been admitted to the Academy: Letitia Wright, Sterling K. Brown and Winston Duke. Shadow and Act’s RISING Award winners Alana Mayo and Nijla Mu’min were also invited, in the executives and short film and animation categories, respectively.
Still the Academy has a long way to go to reach gender and racial parity. While 50% of the new members are women, women only make up 32% of the total number of Academy members. The stats are even worse for people of color: only 29% of new members are people of color and they collectively only make up 16% of Academy voters.
After April Reign’s activist movement #OscarsSoWhite called out The Academy for its all-white nominees, the Academy sought to diversify its ranks in 2016, inviting 683 new members to join that year. Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Ryan Coogler, Tessa Thompson, Anika Noni Rose and more were among the first invited to the Academy in 2016. The following year, another group of Black creatives were invited, including Terry Crews, Donald Glover, Keegan-Michael Key, Janelle Monáe, Ruth Negga, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, Debbie Allen, Colman Domingo and Phylicia Rashad.
More of Black Hollywood joined last year in a class of 928 new members, as well, including Joy Bryant, Hannibal Burress, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Dave Chappelle, Noel Clarke, Taye Diggs, Aunjanue Ellis, Omar Epps, Ato Essandoh, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and André Holland.
Yet even with all of those names now on the rolls, the diverse representation within the Academy is still troublesome. While #OscarsSoWhite has forced the Academy forward, moving the percentage of people of color from 8% to 16% in 4 years, this is a vast underrepresentation of both California (which is already majority people of color) and America (which will be majority people of color in about 20 more years). While congratulations are in order to the new class members, the Academy still has a long road ahead.