Oscar-nominated director Lexi Alexander was emotional after learning of her invitation to join the academy
The Arab-German filmmaker was nominated in 2003 for her live-action short film "Johnny Flynton," which centers around a small-town boxer and a tragic set of events after an exhibition fight.
"After being an Oscar nominee 13 years ago... I'm so pleased to be invited," Alexander told The Times. "I'm especially happy to be part of such a diverse group. I actually want to hang out and watch movies with most of the people on this list.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made a huge new push this year to admit hundreds more members than last year as part of an effort to diversify the Oscars voting pool. The results: According to the academy’s figures, the new class is 46% female and 41% of the invitees are people of color.
But that only brings the representation of women in the organization from 25% to 27% and minorities' share of total academy membership from 8% to 11%.
Here's why: In 2012, The Times reported, Oscar voters were 94% white and 77% male, and by this year those numbers had budged only slightly.
Brie Larson, John Boyega, America Ferrara, Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman were among 683 new members invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today in what the nearly 90-year-old organization touted as its largest and most diverse new class ever.
The group represents the latest and most dramatic sign of the academy leadership’s effort to diversify the historically overwhelmingly white and male institution, an effort that took on heightened urgency this year in the #OscarsSoWhite uproar that reached a fever pitch in the run-up to this year’s awards telecast.
This year's class is more than double the number invited in 2015, when the academy brought 322 members into its ranks.
Robert Greenwald, an independent documentary filmmaker and president of Brave New Films, praised the academy's announcement but noted that more steps toward diversity need to occur in the hiring process.
“I appreciate the academy being open and transparent. With such a deep deficit, there of course is a long way to go for the academy to look like the rest of the United States. Glad to see them taking the important initial steps. But of course the real systemic problem is in making the hiring more diverse, so that there are more and more candidates for the academy to consider. And I hope the press and others will focus on the diversity in the hiring.
“I have personal experience. Brave New Films has a fellows program ... with focus on women and men of color. First year, we had 551 applications for five spots. So the talent and desire is there. We must open up the hiring process.”
Rupert Murdoch’s sons -- James and Lachlan Murdoch -- were among 31 people invited to the academy in the executive category.
James Murdoch’s invitation comes after he was elevated last year to chief executive of 21st Century Fox, which owns the Fox movie studio. The Fox film studio is in the process of a major leadership change as the younger generation of Murdochs endeavors to put its imprint on the media company that famous father Rupert built over the last five decades. His older brother, Lachlan Murdoch, serves as executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, a title that he shares with his father. Lachlan primarily works out of Fox’s West Coast headquarters in Century City, and is getting increasingly involved in TV and movie production. James Murdoch is based at the company’s corporate headquarters in New York.
Other invitees in the executive category include: AMC Networks Chief Executive Officer Josh Sapan, longtime Sony Pictures executive Adrian Smith, Imagine Entertainment executive Erica Huggins, Fox Searchlight executive Anikah Elizabeth McLaren, Village Roadshow Pictures executive Bonni Lee and billionaire Gigi Pritzker (“Enders Game” and “The Way, Way Back”), the chief executive of Oddlot Entertainment.