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Oscar's Academy Invites 928 New Members, Getting Closer to Diversity Goals

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This combination photo shows, top row from left, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Jada Pinkett Smith and Timothee Chalamet, and bottom row from left, Kendrick Lamar, Gina Rodriguez, Chloe Zhao, Tiffany Haddish and Sarah Silverman who are among 928 people invited to become members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (AP)

Following through on promises to finally diversify the rank and file of the Academy of Motion Pictures, the Oscar-granting body has invited a record number of 928 new members, making the 2018 class the largest in history.

The invitations, issued Monday to an array of people involved in the film industry across 59 countries, are part of the Academy’s stated mission to include more women and more people of color after the 2014 and 2015 #OscarsSoWhite controversies, which essentially shut-out non-white acting nominees from all 20 spots in the lead and supporting acting roles.

According to the Academy’s breakdown, 49 percent of new members this year are women and 38 percent are people of color. Still, those numbers do little to raise overall numbers of both groups over last year. Should everyone who has been invited actually agree to join, it would raise overall female membership from 28 percent to 31 percent, while non-white participation would inch up from 13 percent to 16 percent.

Among the most recognizable names asked into the privileged fold are Tiffany Haddish, Dave Chappelle, Mindy Kaling, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Wendell Pierce, Gina Rodriguez, Sarah Silverman, J.K. Rowling, Kendrick Lamar, Questlove and Jada Pinkett Smith, who boycotted the 2016 awards for its lack of diversity.

As of Tuesday morning, only a handful of those newly invited had acknowledged it on Twitter. Rodriguez and Pierce both said they were “honored.”

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Nanjiani took a more factual tone, writing, “Hey yo. I’m in the Academy.”

And actor Miles Teller promised “to never let anyone borrow my screeners.”

Former Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs — the first African-American president of the group and the third woman to hold the position — initiated push to broaden membership in 2016 after it was revealed that 92% were white and 75% male. At the time she said her goal was to double the number of women and people of color in the Academy by 2020.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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