The Oscars ran into more controversy than usual in 2016 with very reasonable accusations of being less than representative when it comes to the spread of race and gender within the Academy. Currently members are 75 percent male and 92 percent white and the nominees in most major categories reflected that.
The result was a massive public outcry with boycotting of the ceremony and a campaign around the OscarsSoWhite hashtag. For an event that's supposed to celebrate the best in entertainment from the previous year, it went about as wrong as you can imagine.
Now the Academy is committed to making a major change, aiming to double the number of women and ethnic minorities in the group by 2020, which still wouldn't make the numbers equal. A first start is the new round of potential members, with a record 683 media folks being invited to join this year.
This list is composed of 46 percent women and 41 percent from an ethnic minority, which will finally start to make a difference to the make up of the Academy, although it will be years before the sea change is really felt. A new rule also sets voting status at 10 years, after which it will expire if you haven't been active within the industry in that period. This will help over time to bring down the overall age of the membership.
You can find the full list over here along with some stats. A few names standout names include:
Mahershala Ali, Kate Beckinsale, Chadwick Boseman, John Boyega, Rose Byrne, Idris Elba, Andrew Garfield, Tom Hiddleston, Daniel Dae Kim, Michael B. Jordan, Byung-Hun Lee, Frieda Pinto, Michelle Rodriguez, Mark Rylance, Emma Watson, Alicia Vikander and venerable character actor James Hong. He's in everything.
On the side of the directors, our own Lenny Abrahamson has been asked to join, along with Ryan Coogler, Xavier Dolan, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, James Wan, Taiki Waititi, Marjane Satrapi, Lynne Ramsey, Park Chan-wook, Patty Jenkins, Albert Hughes, Mary Harron and many more besides.
It's a solid first step towards equality, let's hope it has some impact on the nominees next year.