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This past week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out 683 invitations to new members, with 46 percent of invitees being women and 41 percent people of color.
The record-breaking number of invitations was in direct response to the uproar surrounding the continued lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations, which spurred the social media campaign #OscarsSoWhite.
Daniel Dae Kim was among this year’s invitees, finding out about his invitation through Twitter. “It feels like a really substantive move,” the actor said to The Hollywood Reporter. “I give a lot of credit to [AMPAS president] Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She said she was going to make changes and she affected changed immediately.”
Despite the historic number of female and minority invitees, Kim noted that the Academy still has a long way to go in terms of achieving better representation within its ranks.
“[This class] only changes the makeup of the Academy by two or three percentage points, which gives you an idea of how lopsided the representation was to begin with,” he said. “I am not sure if we can expect future classes of invitees to be as diverse, but I think it is a positive sign.”
Prior to this list of prospective members, the Academy was 92 percent white and 75 percent male. With this new membership, the numbers would shift to 89 percent and 73 percent, respectively.
Invitees include 24-year-old Star Wars star John Boyega as well as up-and-coming director Marielle Heller and Broadway vet Patti LuPone. Concerns have been voiced that some of the invitees do not have to proper credits to determine the Oscars.
“There have been a lot of complaints that the new invitees have a lot of credits that aren’t necessarily film, but I don’t see that as an issue,” said Kim. “Those who are working in the industry go back and forth between film, TV and theater, so I think all of us will take the responsibility seriously.”
He added: “Not to mention TV is more diverse than film, so you are going to have better representation with those who work in television.”
Kim is one of such crossover actors, currently starring on CBS’ Hawaii 5-0 and appearing on the big screen this year in the Divergent film Allegiant, as well as recently headlining the Broadway revival of The King and I.
When asked about his new responsibility, Kim said, “First and foremost I will be looking for quality entertainment. Diversity is not going to replace the top priority, which is to honor achievements in filmmaking. At the same time, I will keep an eye for the stories of the underrepresented and whose stories we haven’t heard yet.”
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