Kenyan filmmaker Judy Kibinge has been invited to join the Oscar Academy, underscoring a cultural shift that began when the prestigious film award institution came under fire for underrepresenting women and minorities.
Kibinge responded humbly to the invitation.
“Whoa!” she posted on Facebook after the announcement was made public last week. “Blink! Blink! What a list. Honored!”
Kibinge, 50, is among 773 others joining the exclusive “Class of 2017,” which will be responsible for nominating films to next year’s Oscar Academy Awards ceremony. The new academy members hail from 57 different countries, 39% are women and 30% are people of color.
The diversification of this year’s academy class appears directly correlated to the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, which started a few years ago as a seething Twitter campaign protesting the institution’s lack of racial diversity.
Kibinge boasts director, writer and producer credits on 10 films and has received three prominent African film awards. Critics lauded her 2013 film, “Something Necessary,” as groundbreaking.
Born in Nairobi, Kibinge moved with her family to Washington, D.C. at age 2. After completing her university studies in England, Kibinge moved back to Kenya where she eventually embarked on a blossoming filmmaking career after working as creative director at the global advertising agency McCann Erickson for eight years.
Kibinge’s induction signals the Oscar Academy’s commitment to have its membership reflect world demographics.
“It’s up to all of us to ensure that new faces and voices are seen and heard,” academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement.
After no person of color was nominated for lead or supporting acting awards in either 2015 or 2016, Hollywood celebrities began openly lamenting the academy – and the pushback has proven successful.
Between 2015 and 2017, the number of people of color invited to the academy has skyrocketed by 331%. The #OscarsSoWhite campaign claimed another feat earlier this year when “Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins’ eye-opening 2016 film – took home the Oscar Academy award for best picture.
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