The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday announced the list of members it has invited to join the organisation this year, and Vidya Balan, Ekta Kapoor, and Shobha Kapoor are the only Indians to feature on the list. The invitation makes them eligible to vote at the upcoming Oscars.
The Academy’s Class of 2021 comprises 395 artists from across industries and is its most inclusive list ever.
“The 2021 class is 46% women, 39% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 53% international from 49 countries outside of the United States. There are 89 Oscar nominees, including 25 winners, among the invitees,” Academy’s statement read.
Balan’s performances in Tumhari Sulu and Kahaani garnered her the invitation. Ekta Kapoor’s films Dream Girl and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, and her mother Shobha Kapoor’s Udta Punjab and The Dirty Picture earned them their invites. The three women join the likes of Robert Pattinson, Vanessa Kirby, Paul Raci, and Darius Marder, among others, in the Academy’s Class of 2021.
The number of Indians invited to be part of the Academy has declined from eight artists in 2020. Actors Alia Bhatt and Hritik Roshan were among those invited then.
Of the 395 new artists in 2021, eight have received invitations from multiple branches. These include Craig Brewer, the director of Black Snake Moan and Hustle & Flow, Minari director Lee Isaac Chung, Promising Young Woman director Emerald Fennell, Judas and the Black Messiah director Shaka King, Alexander Nanau, One Night in Miami music composer Leslie Odom Junior, and Florian Zeller.
The Academy’s eighteen branches are Actors, Casting Directors, Cinematographers, Costume Designers, Directors, Documentary, Executives, Film Editors, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists, Marketing and Public Relations, Music, Producers, Production Design, Short Films and Feature Animation, Sound, Visual Effects, Writers, and Members at Large.
International Award shows like the Oscars and the Golden Globes have been criticised for being racist and non-inclusive. In 2015, a social media campaign called #OscarsSoWhite gained traction after a majority of the Academy Award nominations featured white, male artists.
Both the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have taken measures to tackle the problem. While the Academy nominated two women directors for the first time, in 2021, the Globes announced a set of reforms in May following the outcry over the nomination of only four non-white individuals in the major categories. The HFPA, on Thursday, revised its rules and made space for foreign-language and animated films to be eligible for the Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy awards.