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Common, Oyelowo Diversify Film Academy Membership

  • Associated Press

FILE - Actor David Oyelowo portrayed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the film "Selma."

FILE - Actor David Oyelowo portrayed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the film "Selma."

In choosing its newest members, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences went for younger and more diverse.

Kevin Hart, Common, Emma Stone, Dev Patel and Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle were among the 322 new academy members announced Friday.

"It's really gratifying to see the big increases in genre, people of color, age and national origin,'' academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview.

Other new inductees include Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Sergio Mendes, Elizabeth Banks, John Legend, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Hardy and Dope director Rick Famuyiwa.

Membership in the film academy is by invitation only. Oscar nominees are automatically invited; others must be sponsored by two members of their branch of filmmaking.

"We've stressed very much that our members in each branch, it's their duty to really pay attention to a diverse talent pool, to those coming up, to those that may have been overlooked for membership,'' Boone Isaacs said. "I think that effort has paid off well this year.''

The nearly 6,000-member international group has long been criticized for its largely white, male membership.

An all-white roster of acting nominees at the most recent Academy Awards inspired the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite on social media and increased scrutiny of the lack of diversity in the ranks of the organization.

Boone Isaacs said the criticism was "part of the conversation'' that inspired existing academy members to actively seek new talent in places they may not have ordinarily looked.

"It's gotten folks thinking in a way that maybe they just hadn't thought before,'' she said.

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