The Academy’s New Class is 39% Female and 30% POC

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover, Naomie Harris, and John Cho (The Hollywood Reporter)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced its new class of members. The 2017 class numbers 744, which is a new record. This breaks the 2016 number of invitees at 683, which had previously held the record.

This new class might also hold the distinction of being the most diverse (so far). Of the 744 members, 39% are women and 30% are people of color (POC).

Here’s how the new class will influence the gender makeup of the Academy:

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Overall Female Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable women invited include “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, comedian Amy Poehler, and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

POC comprise 39% of this year’s class. Here’s what that looks like with respect to the Academy’s full voting body:

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

People of Color in Overall Membership (Variety/AMPAS)

Notable POC invitees include Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele,” Indian actor Salman Khan, and Hong Kong actor Tony Leung.

Of course, there’s a lot of intersectionality happening for women of color (WOC). Prominent WOC in this year’s Academy class include Priyanka Chopra, Sanaa Lathan, and Nazanin Boniadi.

The Academy’s new class is part of an effort to increase the numbers of women and POC members by 2020.

Hopefully the new influx of fresh faces and perspectives will allow more diverse and inclusive narratives to come to the forefront, and prevent another #OscarsSoWhite fiasco.

 

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Going Dark for “A Day Without A Woman”

A Day Without A Woman (Women's March on Washington)

A Day Without A Woman (Women’s March on Washington)

Today, I’m going dark for a cause: A Day Without A Woman.

Guidelines for the day via A Day Without A Woman:

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

This day coincides with International Women’s Day (IWD) and the International Women’s Strike (IWS). The day will also spotlight all the financial power women possess:

The idea behind a women’s general strike is that if women refuse to do all of their typical work for a day, it will force people to notice how important and under-appreciated that work is.

And that economic impact will be felt:

Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and influence about 73% of all household spending.

Though I’ll be working today at my office job, I plan to show my support by wearing red, reading feminist literature (currently deciding between “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie and “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay), and masturbating.

See you on March 9th!

School Districts Shutting Down For “A Day Without A Woman”

1950s female teacher (Masterfile)

1950s female teacher (Masterfile)

Tomorrow is A Day Without A Woman, a day to call attention to women’s economic power and labor (including the unpaid and emotional kind). Because women do have economic power: Studies show that “women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and influence about 73% of all household spending.”

One profession that is traditionally female-dominant is teaching. The National Center for Education Statistics found that for the 2011-2012 school year, female teachers comprised 76% of all public school teachers. (This gap is especially prominent in elementary schools.) These so-called “pink collar” jobs are ones where women dominate, but can be considered to be “lower” in status because of the feminine association (which is wrong, wrong, WRONG!!).

Naturally, the public school system might be hit hard tomorrow. Some school districts have already cancelled classes as a result of teachers taking the day off to strike. The Alexandria, Virginia public school system reported receiving over 300 requests for the day off. Brooklyn preschool The Maple Street School and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public school system in North Carolina (where 75% of employees are women) will also be closed. All schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, will also be closed, after 1.7K teachers and 30% of transportation staff requested the day off.

Trends: Muslim Firsts in Popular Culture

Halima Aden covering 'CR Fashion Book' (CR Fashion Book)

Halima Aden covering ‘CR Fashion Book’ (CR Fashion Book)

Recently, Muslims in the U.S. have gained prominence in a series of firsts in mainstream culture.

Last year, Halima Aden competed in the Miss Minnesota beauty pageant. Aden wears hijab, and wore a burkini during the swimsuit portion of the event. Though she didm’t win the title, people took notice of her, especially the fashion industry. IMG Models recently signed Aden, who’s now their first hijabi model. (It’s important to note that while Aden is the first hijabi model for the company, she is not their first Muslim model.) Aden recently appeared on the cover of CR Fashionbook, where the headline cemented her one-name-only status (similar to that of Iman, who interviewed Aden for the issue).

Earlier this week, actor Mahershala Ali won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Moonlight.” This wasn’t a surprise: Ali had been winning awards at all of the awards running up the Oscars. But Ali is the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award. He spoke about converting to Islam in his acceptance speech for male actor in a supporting role at this year’s SAG Awards, where he warned against letting the minutia of differences overtake the similarities.

Hopefully this exposure normalizes Muslims for people who may not have met one in person. I hope this is just the start of more prominent Muslims in pop culture to come.

Viola Davis Makes Record with Oscar Win

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis Oscar win, 2017 (TV Insider)

Viola Davis (a.k.a QUEEN VIOLA) won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in “Fences.” (She also gave an excellent acceptance speech.) This wasn’t remotely a surprise, as she was CLEANING UP during awards season. This win has now ushered Davis into an upper echelon of artists that many people don’t achieve.

When she was nominated for the award, Davis started making history right out of the gate.   She became the first Black actor or actress to receive three Oscar nominations. (Her two previous nominations were for “Doubt” in 2008, and “The Help” in 2011.) This year’s Best Supporting Actress nominations was the first time three Black women were nominated, and the second time three non-white women were nominated.

With her win, Davis has hit other records. She’s now the 23rd person to win what’s called the triple crown of acting: a Tony, an Emmy, and a “competitive” (a.k.a. non-honorary) Oscar. Davis is also the first Black actor to achieve this feat, winning Tony for “King Hedley II” in 2001, and “Fences” in 2010, and an Emmy for “How to Get Away with Murder” in 2015.

This club is a rare one indeed. Davis is the first actress of her generation to achieve this honor. She even beat perennial-nominee-for-everything Meryl Streep to the punch.

Davis also has three out of the four awards required for an EGOT “grand slam:” Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (though one could argue that Davis herself brings the G). The Grammys don’t honor acting, so the EGOT is more about versatility in the entertainment industry.

Jeanette Epps Will Be the First Black Astronaut to Board the International Space Station

Jeanette Epps (Wikipedia)

Jeanette Epps (Wikipedia)

Earlier this month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that Astronaut Jeanette Epps will join the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2018. History was made with this announcement: Epps will be the first Black woman to join the ISS.

Epps will be NASA’s 15th Black astronaut, the fifth Black female astronaut. She’ll be part of Expedition 56 and all of Expedition 57.

This will be Epps’ first flight into space, and I’m sure she’ll kill it.

 

Black Actor Oscar Nominations: By The Numbers

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

7 Best Supporting Actress Nominees Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Naomie Harris (The Wrap)

Remember how the last couple of Oscar ceremonies were plagued by a lack of diverse nominees, especially in the major categories? The Academy has appeared to learn from that. The change has become especially clear in the acting categories. This year, each acting category has at least one Black nominee.

Here are the stats:

Best Actor: Denzel Washington (“Fences”)

  • Washington is now the most nominated Black actor in Oscar history. He’s had six previous nominations, two for Best Supporting Actor and four for Best Actor. He won Best Supporting Actor in “Glory” in Best Actor for “Training Day” in 2001.

Best Actress: Ruth Negga (“Loving”)

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”)

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”), Octavia Spender (“Hidden Figures”)

  • This year is the first time an acting category has had three Black nominees. The last time an acting category had two Black nominees was in 1985, when Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey were both nominated for “The Color Purple.”
  • This is the second time the Best Supporting Actress category has had three non-white nominees. The first time was in 2007, with Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls,” and Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi for “Babel” nominated.
  • Davis made history this year by becoming the first Black actress to score three Oscar nominations. Previously, Whoopi Goldberg was the only Black actress to have two Oscar nominations. She won the Oscar for her second nomination for her performance in “Ghost” in 1991.