Movies

Awkwafina to Zendaya: Oscars Academy boosts female minority membership

Los Angeles,  – Young actresses Awkwafina, Zendaya and Constance Wu were among those invited to join Hollywood’s Academy on Tuesday, as the Oscars-awarding club opened its prestigious doors to a diverse crop of new members.

Slammed again at this year’s Oscars for nominating just one non-white actor, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has boosted its efforts to increase female and ethnic minority membership in recent times.

The majority of actors invited to join this year were women, and more than half were from “underrepresented ethnic/racial communities”, said an Academy statement.

Cynthia Erivo – the sole non-white acting nominee at February’s Oscars, for Harriet – was on Tuesday’s list of invitees, along with Eva Longoria, Zazie Beetz and Ana de Armas.

“We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now,” said Academy President David Rubin.

Comedian-rapper Awkwafina has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses, winning a Golden Globe for Chinese-American family drama The Farewell but snubbed at the Oscars.

She was invited to join Tuesday along with Spider-Man star Zendaya and Crazy Rich Asians leading lady Constance Wu.

Seen as the apex body of the Hollywood film industry, the Academy issues a single round of invitations annually.

The organisation has grown vastly more international in recent years, tripling its non-US membership since 2015.

Only Academy members can vote for Oscar winners, so this trend was seen as a factor in Parasite becoming the first-ever non-English language best picture winner this year.

A dozen cast and crew members from the South Korean black comedy were also invited to join Tuesday. Its director Bong Joon-ho was already an Academy member.

Tuesday’s intake of 819 sees the body approach 10,000 members, though the number of invitees is slightly down from the past two years’ record numbers. - AFP

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