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.

 

Trends: Historic Interracial Couples on Film

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in 'Loving' (Evening Standard)

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in ‘Loving’ (Evening Standard)

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, the conversation around movies in Hollywood centered around the fact that there was no diversity. #OscarsSoWhite gained prominence during the national conversation. It seems the entertainment industry listened, because movies with diverse casts and themes will be released. Even better, a couple of movies will tell stories from history that need to be more widely known than they are.

The story of Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving are featured in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. Mildred, a Black woman (played by Ruth Negga), and Richard (Joel Edgerton), a white man, were arrested in 1958 for the crime of being married when interracial marriage was a crime. The Lovings’ ordeal to have their union be legally recognized led to the landmark Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case in 1967. The ruling struck down every anti-miscegenation law still on the books in 16 Southern states. (At least in theory; several states still tried to unofficially enforce the law.)

Too few people know this story, and I’m glad it’s gaining more recognition. The case is seen as a landmark in the struggle for civil rights, and can be regarded as the spiritual predecessor to the recent marriage equality fight and decision.

Loving isn’t the only historic interracial love story debuting this winter. Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom focuses on the story of Sir Seretse Khama (played by David Oyelowo), a member of the Bechuanaland Protectorate’s royal family, and Ruth Williams (played by Rosamund Pike), an English woman and Khama’s eventual wife. The Khamas’ romance and eventual marriage set off an international scandal which took years to rectify.

Director Asante’s previous feature was Belle, the true story of a mixed-race English woman in the 18th century. I enjoyed it, particularly because it was something I hadn’t seen before: a woman of color in a period costume drama. Asante won my attention and my dollars with that film, so I’m curious to see her new one as well.

Loving will be released on Nov. 4th, and A United Kingdom will be released Jan. 17, 2017.

 

No Shit: Entertainment Isn’t Diverse: By The Numbers

Hollywood sign (Mapping Megan)

Hollywood sign (Mapping Megan)

A new study released this week by the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism once again stated the obvious: Entertainment isn’t diverse.

If you don’t want to read the full report (though I’d recommend it), here are some choice stats:

Percentage of female speaking roles in film: 28.7%

Percentage of female film directors: 3.4%

Percentage of female screenwriters: 28.9%

Percentage of cable TV shows that have no Asian characters: 51%

Percentage of cable TV shows that have no Black characters: 23%

 

Still not convinced the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag is needed?

#ThrowbackThursday: Lupita Nyong’o, Oscars 2014

Lupita Nyong'o Oscar acceptance, 2014 (CBS News)

Lupita Nyong’o Oscar acceptance, 2014 (CBS News)

The Oscars are this weekend (Sunday, Feb. 28). If you’ve been following awards season this year, you know that the #OscarsSoWhite reared its ugly head again. This is the second year in a row that there have been no non-white nominees in the four acting categories. Shameful isn’t a strong enough word.

So I’m throwing it back to the last time we had a non-white winner in an acting category. That was back in 2014, at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Lupita Nyong’o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2013’s “12 Years A Slave.” She’s both the most recent POC nominee and winner.

And because I couldn’t choose just one photo of Nyong’o, here’s another one that showcases her incredible Prada dress:

Lupita Nyong'o backstage at the Oscars, 2014 (Fiction Diversity WordPress)

Lupita Nyong’o backstage at the Oscars, 2014 (Fiction Diversity WordPress)