The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the US organisation behind the Oscars, has selected two Nigerians and a British actor of Nigerian descent as members as it aims to increase its female and ethnic minority representation.
The move comes after the Academy’s board of governors vowed four years ago to double the number of women and non-white members by 2020. The Academy was criticised again at the Oscars this year for nominating just one non-white actor.
That actor was Cynthia Ervio, who is one of Academy’s three new members. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Ervio was nominated for Best Actress for her lead role in Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet.
The other two new members are Nollywood actor Genevieve Nnaji and Nigerian filmmaker Akin Omotosho.
Racial equality in Hollywood has come into sharper focus in recent weeks following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world.
This year the Academy has invited 819 new people to be members, of which 36% are people of colour. Last year, Nigerian filmmakers Tunde Kelani and Chinonye Chukwu and actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje were invited to join.
“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.
The organisation has grown more international in recent years, tripling its non-US membership since 2015. The Academy also plans to introduce new eligibility rules to boost diversity among Oscars nominees and encourage equitable hiring practices and representation on and off screen.
The 93rd edition of the Academy Awards, known as the Oscars, is scheduled to take place on April 25 next year, with nominations to be announced on March 15.
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