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The Oscars: African Representation Increases at the Academy as Mo Abudu, Ramsey Nouah, Andrew Dosunmu, Others, are Among 2021 Member Invitees

Of the 395 Invitees, 39 percent are from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 53 percent international from 49 countries outside of the United States.

Since the racial representation controversy at the Oscars in 2015, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) — the organization behind the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars — has put in a lot of efforts to expand the demographics of its membership to reflect the diversity of voices that contribute to the global community of filmmakers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, The 2021 class is 46 percent women, 39 percent underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 53 percent international from 49 countries outside of the United States.

For the African film community, before 2015, representation at the Academy was almost non-existent, save for a few black filmmakers in the diaspora. The same year of the controversy, the Academy moved to double down on increasing diversity among its membership, and in 2016 as part of its A2020 initiative, it promised to at least double the number of women and underrepresented ethnic/racial communities by 2020.

Yesterday, Thursday, the Academy released a smaller list of invitations for new members. Membership in previous years, from 2015 to 2020 had 322, 683, 774, 928, 842, 819, respectively. This year is 395 but still included powerhouse names such as Janet Jackson, H.E.R., Kenya Barris, Laverne Cox, Issa Rae, Henry Golding and Eiza Gonzalez, among others.

“To enable steady future growth and to ensure the necessary infrastructure, staff resources and environment to support all Academy members, the number invited to membership was limited to roughly half that of recent years,” the Academy said in a statement accompanying the list.

Black representation was significant this year with the likes of Issa Rae, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Kenya Barris, Laverne Cox, Janet Jackson, H.E.R., Andra Day, Leslie Odom Jr., Jurnee Smollett, among many others.

The Africans who are among the 53 percent internationals from 49 countries outside of the United States include Mo Abudu for the Producers branch of the Academy, Ramsey Nouah for the Actors branch and Andrew Dosunmu for the Directors branch. They join the likes of Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde (Class of 2018) and Femi Odugbemi, a voting member (Class of 2018).

Their membership is a significant step in ensuring continuous growth in African representation at the global community of filmmakers and pivotal to attracting investors for the growth of the African film industry.

See the full list of the newly inducted members of the Academy here.

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Stories about African and Black Entertainment in Diaspora with focus on Film | TV | Digital