By Vanessa Obioha
Nollywood actress Genevieve Nnaji and director Akin Omotoso, who was picked to direct Nigerian original series for Netflix, are the latest Nigerian creatives to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). In 2018, the Academy invited members of the Nigerian creative industry like renowned filmmaker Femi Odugbemi to become members.
The global film academy set out in 2016 to increase the diversity of its membership following the #OscarsSoWhite outcry in 2015. The group had 75 percent of its membership male and 92 percent white at the time. Only 25 percent of its members were female and eight percent people of colour in 2015. The board shifted its goal to doubling the number of female and minority members by 2020. At the time, the Academy had 6,436 active members out of which only 6,124 were eligible to vote for the Oscars, which means that the diversity pledge required them to add about 1,609 female members and 515 non-white members.
For its 2020 class, the Academy sent out invites to 819 artists and executives out of which 45% are women, 36% are underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49% are international from 68 countries,
75 Oscar® nominees, including 15 winners, and five recipients of Scientific and Technical Awards.
In a statement, the Academy revealed that it has now surpassed its goal to double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities by 2020.
“The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences. 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.
“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one,” added Academy CEO Dawn Hudson.
“We are committed to staying the course. I cannot give enough thanks to all our members and staff who worked on the A2020 initiative and to our head of Member Relations and Awards, Lorenza Muñoz, for her leadership and passion in guiding us through to this point and helping to set the path going forward. We look forward to continuing to foster an Academy that reflects the world around us in our membership, our programs, our new Museum, and in our awards.”
Other notable actors invited include Eva Longoria (Harsh Times), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Ana de Armas (Knives Out), and Cynthia Erivo (Widows), Yalitza Aparicio (Roma) and Florence Pugh (Little Women).