41% of those invited are from ethnic minorities
The Oscars’ Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences had invited 70 people of East Asian descent to join their organisation.
The invitation only academy, which has over 6000 members, decides on which films and actors deserve Oscars. Memversconsist of directors, actors, Hollywood exclusives, costume designers, cinematographers and writers.
683 people were invited to the organisation this year. 41% (272) were of colour, 70 of which are of east Asian heritage.
The move is intended to diversify the Academy’s membership following the controversy that no actors of colour were nominated for Oscars over the past two years. The controversy sparked the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite to go viral, with many frustrated in the discriminatory nature that the Oscars seemed to possess.
New east Asian members include cinematographer Peter Pau (The Forbidden Kingdom, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Poon Hang-Sang Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, Kung Fu Hustle), documenter Spencer Nakasako (Refugee, and A.K.A. Don Bonus, Anita Lee–Stories We Tell, Everybody’s Children) and Trinh T. Minh-ha (Forgetting Vietnam, Surname Viet Given Name Nam).
Other A-list names who were given membership include Kate Beckinsale, Idris Elba, Emma Watson, America Ferrera, Michael B. Jordan, Daphne Zuniga and Damon Wayans, Jr.
This year’s addition of 683 people is the largest to date. 2015 only saw 322 invitations.
The move will increase representation of people of colour from 8% to 11%, whilst the representation of women will be increased from 25% to 27%.
According to the Sunday Morning Herald, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced that sweeping changes will be implemented to double the number of women and minorities by 2020.
“The academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.”
However, in 2012, The Los Angeles Times reported that Oscar voters were 94% caucasian and 77% male. By this year, those numbers had only changed slightly. To achieve the academy’s diversity goals, the academy would need to invite at least 375 women and over 130 people of colour each year for the next consecutive four years, according to The Times.
For east Asians, the percentages are even slimmer. 70 people may seem like a healthy addition, but amongst the Academy’s 6000-strong membership, their representation is a drop in the ocean. Having said that, it is certainly a good start. As well as an increase in the representation of ethnic minorities on the whole, we hope to see more east Asians being represented in the not too distant future.
Whilst the issue of discrimination in the Oscars is certainly controversial, perhaps it is the structure of Hollywood on the whole that needs to be addressed. Jun Kit Man argues, “it doesn’t help that Black, Latino and Asian actors get typecast to play stereotypes” and adds, “ethnic minority actors have a harder time simply being cast, let alone being nominated for anything”. Perhaps the Oscars are just a backdrop for a bigger conversation about casting in Hollywood…