Zendaya, John David Washington, Niecy Nash, Matthew A. Cherry Among 819 New Members Invited to The Academy

Zendaya on February 06, 2020, in Brooklyn, NY; John David Washington on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif.; Niecy Nash on February 21, 2020, in Hollywood, Calif.; Matthew A. Cherry on February 22, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
Zendaya on February 06, 2020, in Brooklyn, NY; John David Washington on February 5, 2019, in Santa Barbara, Calif.; Niecy Nash on February 21, 2020, in Hollywood, Calif.; Matthew A. Cherry on February 22, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
Photo: Steven Ferdman (Getty Images), Emma McIntyre (Getty Images), Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images), Frazer Harrison (Getty Images)

It’s time to welcome a new class into the most elite membership in the film industry. On Tuesday, The Academy announced it is welcoming 819 new members.

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Per a press release sent to The Root, the Academy Class of 2020 is “is 45 percent women, 36 percent underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49 percent international from 68 countries.” Of the variety of branches within the membership, 5 of them invited a majority of people from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities (Actors, Casting Directors, Directors, Music and Producers).

As part of their efforts to create a more equitable and inclusive community, the Academy recently launched Academy Aperture 2025, setting new standards such as hiring practices, changing rules for the Oscars, and more.

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“The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences. We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now,” Academy President David Rubin said in a statement.

But, enough of that stuffy stuff...I know why you’re here! You want to know what Black-ass talent has been invited! Well, there are over 800 members so I can’t (and won’t) list every single Black person, but let’s grab some highlights:

Shout-out to Zendaya Coleman, John David Washington, Niecy Nash, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Cynthia Erivo, Brian Tyree Henry, Rob Morgan and more. I see y’all!

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I also spy Mati Diop—acclaimed director of Cannes darling Atlantics—and Victoria Mahoney, who made history as the first female Star Wars director.

Oh, and I have to give some special love to Matthew A. Cherry (who recently won an Oscar for his animated short, Hair Love). The Hair Love squad is deep because co-director Everett Downing was also invited into the 2020 class. Oh, and don’t worry (like I preemptively did before searching and confirming), Karen Rupert Toliver, the woman who stood next to him onstage with her own statuette that night, is already a member of The Academy, as she was invited in 2018.

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Some of the members are listed under more than one branch such as Erivo (who is under Actors and Music) and I really wish I could go through each and every name to shout you out, but please know I extend my congrats to you! I look forward to each new member doing their part to make sure the Oscars looks more and more like the diverse world we’re living in.

To check out the new (and robust!) list, head on over to oscars.org.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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