Academy invites 4 more Koreans

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Academy invites 4 more Koreans


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited four additional members from the Korean film industry - actor Lee Byung-hun and filmmakers Park Chan-wook, Kim So-young and Lee Chang-dong - as new members on Wednesday local time. They were part of 683 new members to join the organization.

It wasn’t the first time that the academy, which hosts the Oscars every year, has invited Korean members. Last year, movie directors Lim Kwon-taek and Bong Joon-ho, actors Choi Min-sik and Song Gang-ho and character design supervisor Kim Sang-jin joined the organization.

There will now be nine Koreans in the organization as of this year. The latest decision matches the academy’s announcement in January to double the number of female and minority members by 2020.

The academy says its invitees are 46 percent female, 41 percent minority and represent 59 countries.

Should all the invitees accept, the new class would make the academy’s overall membership 27 percent female and 11 percent non-white, up from 25 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Idris Elba, Chadwick Boseman, Eva Mendes, America Ferrera and Anika Noni Rose are among the actors invited to join.

Other potential new members helping to increase the academy’s diversity include Chinese cinematographer Zhao Fei, Japanese production designer Yohei Taneda, Mexican director Patricia Riggen and musicians such as Fitzgerald Diggs, who is better known as RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan.

The 2016 group is the academy’s largest ever and more than double last year’s class, said President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.

She said the academy has worked for several years to diversify its largely white, male membership. Last year’s #OscarsSoWhite movement amplified that conversation.

The academy announced sweeping changes to its recruitment and voting practices in January after a second straight year of all-white acting nominees for the Academy Awards.

In March, the organization added three new members to its board of governors and appointed six minority members to other leadership positions.

“I think because the conversation has truly exploded that we were able to have the size and the diversity of talent increase even more for 2016,” Boone Isaacs said in an interview Wednesday.

“We have recognized diverse talent throughout our history,” she said. “What is of-the-now is how expansive and diverse our industry has become.”

She said academy members have been energized by the mandate to bring emerging or overlooked talents into their ranks.

“It’s been like a charge of electricity,” she said.

Two-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern has felt that energy in the actors branch.

“It is the membership saying we want to support fellow artists,” Dern said Wednesday. ”And we want to really feel that the academy is a true representation of art at this time on this planet.”

Just as moviegoers and Oscar watchers are demanding more diversity on screen, Dern says the academy is seeking to be more inclusive and expansive in its search for excellence.

“As history continues to prove to us, we always seem to benefit when you question,” she said. “It’s an artist’s job to question, to consider and to figure out how to expand and grow. So we have to take that to heart and ask ourselves and each other how we can continue to grow and represent art in the best possible way.”

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