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.

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Jennifer Garner in ‘Elektra,’ 2005

Jennifer Garner in 'Elektra,' 2005 (Ouch Press)

Jennifer Garner in ‘Elektra,’ 2005 (Ouch Press)

Full disclosure: I haven’t seen the 2005 movie “Elektra,” but per IMDB, here’s the synopsis:

Elektra the warrior survives a near-death experience, becomes an assassin-for-hire, and tries to protect her two latest targets, a single father and his young daughter, from a group of supernatural assassins.

The movie, starring Jennifer Garner in the title role, was spun off from 2003’s “Daredevil”  (which starred Garner’s eventual ex-husband Ben Affleck). “Elektra” didn’t do well at the box office: It only grossed $56M+ worldwide on a budget of $43M+.

“Elektra” would ordinarily be a footnote in the history of superhero movies, except for one thing: It’s the most recent movie starring a female superhero.

Until “Wonder Woman.”

 

Trends: Slaying While Pregnant

 

Beyonce's performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

Beyonce’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards (The Fader)

It seems like almost every female celebrity is pregnant right now (and that almost all of them are pregnant with twins). But instead of lying low and taking it easy during their pregnancies, many of these women are stepping it up, and making pregnant and non-pregnant women alike look like slackers.

First case in point: Beyonce. Leave it to Queen Bey to put us all to shame. The superstar performed a set during this year’s Grammy Awards. One portion featured her leaning back in a chair perched at a very precarious angle. (I don’t know about you, but my heart was in my throat for that whole portion. And I audibly exhaled when she got off that chair.)

Beyonce had also been scheduled to perform at Coachella before withdrawing. But we can’t fault her for that, considering she’s done more while pregnant than many people do in their lives.

Serena Williams is widely acknowledged to be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) tennis player in the world. Last month, she announced her pregnancy. When she announced the news, Williams was 20 weeks along. Someone very smart (and awesome) did the math and realized that Williams had recently played in a match while pregnant. And, as Laura Wagner at “Deadspin” put it, this wasn’t just any match:

Serena Williams won the 2017 Australian Open, her record-breaking 23rd major, without dropping a single set, while nine fucking weeks pregnant. She is the greatest of all time.

Elsewhere in entertainment, Gal Gadot has been preparing for her upcoming movie “Wonder Woman.” Last November, she shot reshoots for the movie…while also five months pregnant. And she was probably doing more than a few stunts. NBD.

It’s great that we’re seeing so many women dominate during a time in life when women traditionally have been relegated to the sidelines.

Wonder Woman is No Longer a U.N. Ambassador

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

 

DC Comics superhero/feminist icon Wonder Woman has been ousted as the United Nations (U.N.)’s Honorary Ambassador for female empowerment. The character was officially unveiled as the ambassador on Oct. 21. The unveiling tied into the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal #5, which “seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.’

Her last day as ambassador was Dec. 16. Girlfriend didn’t even have the job a whole two months.

The reason for the end of Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is slightly unclear. Around 45K+ people showed their displeasure with the iconic character’s new role by singing a petition. But the U.N. claims they made the end date soon after the character’s debut in the role, and not as a result of the protests.

 

Sex & Stats’ 2016 Year in Review

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

CoverGirl Nura Afia (Today)

Raise your hand if you are DONE with 2016. Everyone? Yeah, I thought so. Before we let the door hit this year on its ass, let’s look back at some of the biggest trends in sexuality this year.

Women’s Equality

This year, women began speaking up and demanding more. This ranged from five women suing New York State for the infamous tampon tax to single women voting becoming America’s force to be reckoned with to “Shameless” actress Emmy Rossum asking for (and getting!) equal pay for her performance on the hit TV show.

This is one trend that’s been a long time coming, and I hope it continues for a long, long time.

Brands’ New Inclusive Spokesmodels:

This year, larger brands began making strides towards inclusivity in their advertising. This was especially prevalent with the CoverGirl brand: Beauty blogger (and teenager!) James Charles became the first man to rep the brand, and beauty vlogger Nura Afia became the first Muslim woman to wear hijab to appear in CoverGirl’s advertising.

Let’s hope that more brands follow CoverGirl’s lead of using spokesmodels of all stripes to include in their public-facing advertising. After all, it’s been proven that diversity is big business.

Wonder Woman:

Wonder Woman fever is beginning to crest, with many news items about the Amazonian princess making headlines. First, the character was revealed to be queer by DC comics writer Greg Rucka. A few weeks later, she was named honorary ambassador to the United Nations for female empowerment worldwide.

Wonder Woman will probably retain a strong interest with the release of the self-titled big screen movie starring Gal Gadot. The movie will be released on Jun. 2, 2017.

And that’s it for 2016. See you in 2017!

Wonder Woman Will Be the U.N.’s Honorary Ambassador for Female Empowerment

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Vulture)

In addition to being the Amazonian Princess of Themyscira and civilian Diana Prince, Wonder Woman can add another title to her resume: United Nations’ Honorary Ambassador.

Wonder Woman’s promotion will kick off a campaign dedicated to women’s empowerment. This ties into the U.N.’s sustainable development goal 5, which promotes worldwide gender equality.

Though Wonder Woman will be used as a symbol of women’s empowerment throughout the world, it’s worth noting that most of the top U.N. jobs are held by men.

Wonder Woman will be formally announced as the honorary ambassador on October 21st, 75 years after her character first debuted. Actresses Lynda Carter, who’s played the character in the 1970s TV show, and Gal Gadot, who’ll depict the character in a big-budget DC Comics movie next year, are expected to attend the ceremony.

Trends: Female Superheroes’ LGBT Sexuality

Wonder Woman in 'Justice League' (Pink News UK)

Wonder Woman in ‘Justice League’ (Pink News UK)

Last week, DC comics writer Greg Rucka gave voice to what a lot of people suspected for many years: Wonder Woman is queer.

Shocking. (That was sarcastic.)

So far, Rucka is the only person affiliated with DC to speak definitively on Wonder Woman’s sexuality. But he said it’s canon, so…it’s canon. Take it as gospel.

Previous to this “revelation” (if you can call it that), Wonder Woman’s sexuality had been on the table virtually since she debuted in 1941. Think about it: she lived on an island populated solely by women. Audiences can read between the lines.

Wonder Woman isn’t the only strong female protagonist in comics confirmed to be queer. In 2006, Batwoman’s alter ego Kate (also known as Kathy) Kane came out as a lesbian. Batwoman debuted in 1956. (Does this mean it took Kate/Batwoman 50 years to figure out her sexuality?) In 2007, it was announced that Batwoman would be part of DC’s graphic novel series 52, which aimed to depict modern times (relationships included) more accurately.

Batwoman received her own love story with detective Renee Montoya in 2016’s animated movie Batman: Bad Blood. As you might assume, Batwoman is most closely associated with Batman. (Fun fact: Batwoman was originally created to counteract public perception that Batman might be gay.) But thus far, Batwoman (with or without her sexuality) has not been featured in a big-budget live-action movie.

Though she isn’t part of DC or its main rival Marvel Comics, Xena from the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess counts as a superhero in my book. New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless starred as the titular character, a reformed warrior who travels the world doing good deeds for various civilizations. Her friend Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) usually traveled with her. The two (and the show) quickly developed a cult following, especially amongst lesbians. Xena and Gabrielle were depicted as having a close (emotionally and physically) and mutually supportive relationship that many assumed was more than platonic. (There’s even a Tumblr devoted to this.)

In 2003, Lawless talked to Lesbian News (actually the name of a real publication) about Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship. She felt that Xena was “definitely gay,” and that the character and Gabrielle were married. Lawless gave this interview two years after the show ended. In 2015, it was announced that Javier Grillo-Marxuach, executive producer behind the CW’s The 100, would reboot Xena and explore her sexuality in greater depth than the original show. So that basically confirms the yes, the character, and Gabrielle by extension, is indeed gay.

It’s exciting that we’re seeing more and more superheroes depicted as LGBT+, and that their sexuality isn’t the main aspect of their personality. But I wonder which character will be next: Ms. Marvel? Black Canary? Black Widow?