Australian directors, actors join Academy

Peter Mitchell, AAP US Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Australians Warwick Thornton, Isla Fisher and Craig Gillespie are among almost 1000 film industry leaders invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The organisation behind the Oscars has been heavily criticised in recent years for a membership dominated by white men.

The Academy has aggressively moved in the past two years to grow and diversify.

The 928 members invited to join the Academy this year come from 59 different countries.

The Australians invited to join include Sweet Country director Thornton, actress Fisher, I, Tonya director Gillespie, actor/filmmaker Josh Lawson, director Nash Edgerton and actress Elizabeth Debicki.

There are plenty of famous names among the other invitees.

They include: Jada Pinkett Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Kendrick Lamar, JK Rowling, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Daniel Kaluuya, Emilia Clarke, Ken Jeong, Blake Lively, Amy Schumer, Kumail Nanjiani, Olivia Munn, Daisy Ridley, Blair Underwood and Quvenzhane Wallis.

In 2015, just 15 per cent of Academy members were women and eight per cent people of colour.

This year’s invitees were 49 per cent female, bringing the total Academy female membership to 38 per cent.

The Academy said 38 per cent of this year’s new members were people of colour, bringing the total Academy membership to 16 per cent.

The Academy invites elite members of the film industry to join its ranks each year, but the membership drive has accelerated in the past two years after it faced criticism and the (hash)OscarsSoWhite campaign.

Australia’s A-List, including Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Eric Bana, are already members.

Pinkett Smith boycotted the 2016 Oscars when non-white actors were shut out of the acting categories that year.

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