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Oscars chiefs invite record numbers to vote after diversity row


Idris Elba has been invited to vote for next year's Academy Awards.

Idris Elba has been invited to vote for next year's Academy Awards.

Idris Elba has been invited to vote for next year's Academy Awards.

The organisers of the Oscars have invited a record number of new people to vote for next year's Academy Awards following the row over a lack of diversity.

Luther star Idris Elba, Star Wars actor John Boyega and rapper Ice Cube are among 683 people who have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - more than double the total invited the previous year.

The move comes after a lack of diversity among the nominees at this year's Oscars sparked an unprecedented debate about race in the film industry.

None of the nominees for the best actor and actress and best supporting actor and actress categories was from an ethnic minority, prompting film star Will Smith and director Spike Lee to boycott the ceremony in February. The hashtag OscarSoWhite also became a rallying cry on social media for dissatisfied film stars and fans.

The academy, which has already pledged to double the number of "women and diverse members" by 2020, said the group of people invited to join was 46% women and 41% "people of colour".

At the start of 2016, there were 6,261 voting members, with around 92% white and 75% men. The new group will shift the academy's overall membership to 27% women and 11% non-white, it said.

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the new members represented "the best in our global film community, and who have made a lasting impact on movie fans everywhere".

"We're proud to welcome these new members to the academy and know they view this as an opportunity and not just an invitation, a mission and not just a membership," she said.

"This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today. We encourage the larger creative community to open its doors wider, and create opportunities for anyone interested in working in this incredible and storied industry."

Emma Watson, Kate Beckinsale, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Rylance, who won the Oscar for best supporting actor this year, are among the British stars who have been invited to join the academy.

Best Actress Oscar winner Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander, who was named best supporting actress, have also received invitations, along with British film director Ken Loach.

Larson, who won an Oscar for her role in the kidnap drama Room, expressed her delight on Twitter after the Academy's announcement.

She tweeted: "I got in! Excited to use my vote to nominate talent that reflects the real world we live in - DIVERSITY."

Ugly Betty star America Ferrera, who is also joining the academy, said on Twitter: "As a child I'd dream of opportunity 2 express my talent & now I get 2 create opportunity 4 others. Thanks @TheAcademy."

In January the academy announced a new aim to double the number of women and minority members by 2020. It said t hree new seats would be added to its board of governors in an effort to improve diversity, and lifetime voting rights will be limited under the new plans.