The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has announced its new members’ list.
With diversity and representation at the top of the agenda across the arts, The Academy aren’t exempt. Facing criticism a few years ago with the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, conscious efforts to diversify their membership has been made.
This year, The Academy has “invited 842 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. The 2019 class is 50% women, 29% people of color, and represents 59 countries. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2019.“
TBB is proud to recognize some British Black talent in the mix, who are as follows:
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – “Suicide Squad,” “Trumbo” | David Harewood – “Free in Deed,” “Blood Diamond” | Lennie James – “Blade Runner 2049,” “Get On Up” | Letitia Wright – “Black Panther,” “Ready Player One”
Frances-Anne Solomon – “Hero: Inspired by the Extraordinary Life and Times of Mr. Ulric Cross,” “Peggy Su!”
MAKEUP ARTISTS & HAIRSTYLISTS
Sharon Martin – “Half of a Yellow Sun,” “Snow White and the Huntsman”
SHORT FILM & FEATURE ANIMATION
Julius Amedume – “Mr. Graham,” “Mary & John”
Frazer Churchill – “The Kid Who Would Be King,” “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
Rungano Nyoni – “I Am Not a Witch”
OTHER BLACK NEW ACADEMY MEMBERS INCLUDE:
ACTORS – Sterling K. Brown – “Black Panther,” “Marshall” (USA) | Winston Duke – “Us,” “Black Panther” (USA)
DIRECTORS – M. Neema Barnette – “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day,” (USA) | Tunde Kelani – “The Lion and the Jewel,” “The Narrow Path” (NIGERIA) | David E. Talbert – “Almost Christmas,” “First Sunday”
EXECUTIVES – Shakim Compere (USA) | Funa Maduka (USA) | Alana Mayo (USA) | Lumumba Mosquera (USA) | Syrinthia Studer (USA)
FILM EDITORS – Terel Gibson – “Sorry to Bother You,” “The Ballad of Lefty Brown” (USA)
MAKEUP ARTISTS & HAIRSTYLISTS – Sterfon Demings – “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” “Milk” (USA)
MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS – Ellene V. Miles (USA) | Tirrell Whittley (USA)
MUSIC – Michael Abels – “Us,” “Get Out” (USA)
SHORT FILM & FEATURE ANIMATION – Terence Nance – “Univitellin,” “Swimming in Your Skin Again” (USA) | Kevin H. Wilson, Jr. – “My Nephew Emmett,” “Crimson on the Tobacco Road” (USA)
WRITERS – Chinonye Chukwu – “Clemency,” “Alaskaland” (USA) | Tracy Oliver – “The Sun Is Also a Star,” “Girls Trip” (USA) | Kevin Willmott – “BlacKkKlansman,” “Chi-Raq” (USA)
ACADEMY MEMBERS AT LARGE – Nick Cannon (USA)
Overall, it’s a proud moment for British Black creatives to be recognised by the world’s biggest film awards body. Yes, there’s the argument that The Academy/Oscars is a dinosaur institution, but for them to adapt they need to diversify their members. From a black perspective, there’s the challenge that we shouldn’t buy into white establishments that don’t want us anyway… agree, however, there’s nothing wrong with having global institutions that recognise global talent in any industry. Nothing wrong with aspiring to be recognised at the top (if you so desire). It only becomes problematic when one institution fuelled by global pockets – namely the average cinema goer across the globe, doesn’t represent said, global cinema goer. For too long Hollywood, has dictated what we see, the stories we are supposed to deem viable, true and worthy. This is what needs to change.
With that in mind, from a black perspective, why are there not more African and Caribbean film creatives on the members list? How do black filmmakers across the world get a look in? World cinema booms outside of Hollywood, but in order for all cultures to get access and be fairly represented we also need their recognition as members and on awards night.
This is also damning of the UK film industry, as from the members list this year there was only one British Black actress, and no British Black casting directors, British Black cinematographers, British Black costume designers, British Black documentarians, British Black executives, British Black film editors, British Black people in marketing & public relations, British Black musicians/music editors, British Black producers, British Black production designers, or British Black people in sound.
That isn’t an academy issue, that’s a UK film industry issue. Where are we? There are plenty of film creatives working independently or who have been sucked up into bigger production companies as tiny cogs to the bigger wheel… but where are we, in positions of recognisable power?
New members will be welcomed into the Academy at invitation-only receptions in the autumn.