One of the young stars of "The Hunger Games" franchise, a stand-up comedian and a muscle-bound action hero were among the 271 individuals invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday.
Josh Hutcherson, Chris Rock and Jason Statham's fellow invitees include Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave" star Lupita Nyong'o; Oscar-nominated, Somali-born actor Barkhad Abdi; sibling directors Jay and Mark Duplass, octogenarian actress June Squibb, recently crowned EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony)-winner Robert Lopez and maverick producer Megan Ellison. This year's class is five fewer than in 2013, but much larger than in years past.
"The academy is committed to bringing new voices into our ranks," President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview Thursday. "We are encouraging our members to be our ambassadors, looking for folks of color, gender and international status to become members. This has been an initiative here for a number of years, and some are a little better than others — but we’re committed to diversify."
A 2012 Times study found that the academy's membership was overwhelmingly white and male: 94% of Oscar voters were Caucasian, while 77% were male. Academy members were found to have a median age of 62.
Last December — after the addition of 432 new voting members over two years — the overall academy was still 93% white and 76% male, The Times discovered. The median age, meanwhile, inched up to 63.
Last year, the academy admitted 276 members to its ranks, about 100 more than in 2012. Also in 2013 — after The Times’ initial study — the group softened its membership quotas. Previously, the academy would invite about the same number of members as those who had died, retired or resigned.
Individuals gain entry to the academy by earning an Oscar nomination, getting two members to pen recommendations, or receiving an endorsement from an academy membership committee or the organization’s staff.