In effort to diversify, Academy invites more new members than ever

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Oscars, has invited more new members than ever — a whopping 638 people in the entertainment industry, comprising 46 percent women and 41 percent of color — to join its ranks.

At least 60 Asian and Asian Americans were invited, including actors James Hong, Daniel Dae Kim, Byung-hun Lee, Sharmila Tagore, Tatsuya Nakadai and Elizabeth Sung, as well as cinematographers, directors, documentary filmmakers, designers, executives, film editors, makeup artists and hairstylists, writers, visual effects specialists and producers like Karyn Kusama, James Wan, Chan-wook Park, Peter Pau, Cari Fukunaga and Albert Lee.

Invitations included 283 international members from 59 countries.

The number nearly doubled last year’s then-record 322 invitations, a direct result of a vote conducted by the Academy’s Board of Governors this January approving a goal to double the number of women and people of color in its membership by 2020.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who led the effort to diversify membership alongside CEO Dawn Hudson, said in January that the Academy “is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up.”

If all those invited this year choose to accept, the makeup of the Academy would shift from 75 percent male to 73 percent male, and from 92 percent white to 89 percent white. The new class would also shift the membership from 25 percent female to 27 percent female, and 8 percent people of color to 11 percent people of color, according to the Academy.

The awards found itself in hot water earlier this year following its failure to nominate actors of color, with the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag taking over social media.

Each candidate is nominated by one of the Academy’s 17 branches and sponsored by two branch members. The number of invitations have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2011, only 178 invitations were sent out.

Currently, the Academy counts 6,261 voting members among its ranks.