If the Motion Picture Academy’s goal is to dramatically increase the number of women and minorities in its membership, Wednesday’s list of the 683 people who will be invited to join the Academy this year is a very good start: The class of 2016, more than twice as big as any group of new members they’ve ever announced before, is 46 percent female and 41 percent “people of color.”
But can the Academy leadership possibly keep it up and hit their stated goal of doubling the number of women and non-whites by 2020?
The numbers suggest that achieving the entire goal will be extremely difficult, although part of it is definitely within reach.
The Academy is trying hard to remake its 92 percent white, 75 percent male makeup in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite backlash that followed two years of all-white acting nominees.
This year’s more diverse invitees represent huge jumps from the demographic makeup of recent years, when about 25 to 30 percent of the invitations went to women, and only about 15 percent to non-whites.
But if you look at the Academy’s own figures, the task of doubling the number of women and minority members will require them to do what they did this week again in 2017 and 2018 and 2019 and 2020.
And since the Academy looked far and wide to assemble an enormous, and enormously diverse, roster of invitees this year, it could be significantly harder to hit the same kind of numbers year after year.
To double the number of women in the Academy, for instance, the AMPAS stats say that they’ll need to add about 1,700 female members between 2016 and 2020. This year, they added more than 300 — but that still would require adding almost 350 per year for the next four years to hit their declared target.
That means the Academy will need to find and admit more women than they did this year, when the size of their outreach broke all records.
Hitting the goal for people of color, though, might be easier. This year’s roster includes about 280 members of racial minority groups, which is more than halfway to the 501 that would be needed to double the existing number of members of color.
For the next four years, the Academy will be combing a smaller crop of eligible people, but it’ll only have to come up with about 70 non-white members per year. That won’t necessarily be easy, but it’s only a fourth of what they admitted this year.
(Obviously, some newly admitted members will tick both the “female” and the “person of color” boxes, as was the case this year.)
The drive has begun with a bang, but it won’t get any easier from here.