Jul 01, 2016

    Oscars open door to new, diverse cast of invitees


    ALMOST half the 683 people invited this year to join the organisation that bestows the Oscars are women and nearly as many people of colour, the body announced on Wednesday in a bid to honour its vow to push for more diversity.

    The record number of invitees include rising young stars John Boyega of Star Wars and Harry Potter actress Emma Watson, Swedish Oscar winner Alicia Vikander and musician Mary J. Blige, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said.

    Of the class of 2016 - which also includes Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta, Belgian-Kurdish film-maker Sahim Omar Kalifa, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and French director Catherine Breillat - 283 are identified as international members representing

    59 countries.

    The new invitees are 46 per cent female and 41 per cent ethnic minorities, the Academy said, adding that the roster boasts 28 Oscar winners

    and 98 nominees.

    The youngest invitee is 24 and the oldest 91.

    The new list follows scathing criticism about

    a lack of diversity in the Academy's ranks and among the Oscar winners.

    All 20 nominees in the main acting categories at this year's Oscars were white for the second year running, prompting calls

    to boycott the glitzy event and an angry social media backlash under the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.

    "This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today," Academy president

    Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement.

    "We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."