The organisers of the Oscars have invited a record number of new people to vote for next year’s Academy Awards following the row over a lack of diversity.
Luther star Idris Elba, ‘Star Wars’ actor John Boyega, and rapper Ice Cube are among 683 people who have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — more than double the total invited the previous year.
Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, who is also joining the Academy, said on Twitter: “As a child I’d dream of opportunity 2 express my talent & now I get 2 create opportunity 4 others. Thanks @TheAcademy.”
The move comes after a lack of diversity among the nominees at this year’s Oscars sparked an unprecedented debate about race in the film industry.
None of the nominees for the best actor and actress and best supporting actor and actress categories was from an ethnic minority, prompting Will Smith and Spike Lee to boycott the ceremony in February. The hashtag #OscarSoWhite also became a rallying cry on social media for dissatisfied film stars and fans.
The academy, which has already pledged to double the number of “women and diverse members” by 2020, said the group of people invited to join was 46% women and 41% “people of colour”.
At the start of 2016, there were 6,261 voting members, with around 92% white and 75% men. The new group will shift the Academy’s overall membership to 27% women and 11% non-white, it said.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the new members represented “the best in our global film community, and who have made a lasting impact on movie fans everywhere”.
“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,” she said.
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“This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today. We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry.”
Irish filmmakers including Lenny Abrahamson and John Crowley and author Emma Donoghue have also been invited to become members of the Academy.
Room director Abrahamson and author Donoghue were among this year’s Oscar nominees, while Crowley’s film Brooklyn was included alongside Room on the shortlist for best picture.
They join fellow Irish academy members Michael Fassbender, Cillian Murphy, and Saoirse Ronan, U2’s Bono, producer Finola Dwyer, and casting director Ros Hubbard.
Emma Watson, Kate Beckinsale, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar for best supporting actor this year, are among the British stars who have been invited to join the academy.
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