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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sent invitations for its 2016 class on Wednesday. This year’s class, with 683 invitations sent, will be the biggest class in the Academy’s 89-year history, almost double of last year’s 322 invites. Earlier this year, the Oscars were embroiled in controversy for not having even one actor/actress of colour in their list of nominations. This was the second year in a row this took place, with “#OscarsSoWhite" going viral on various social media in response to this. As the hashtag and news gained momentum, famous actors and actresses the world over also spoke up, demanding change.

In January itself, shortly after the controversy, the Academy had promised to make some major changes to its voting requirements, recruiting process and governing structure, focusing on the diversity of its membership. It also promised to double its minority and female membership by 2020. Paving the way for that promise, the new class of invitees includes 283 international members from 59 countries. 46% of the 683 invitees are women. The Academy membership, which forms the voting body for the Oscars, is currently just 25% female, with only 8% people who are not white. Assuming all of this year’s invitees accept, the 2016 influx will increase female membership by 2% and the non-white membership by 3%, with the academy growing to 7,789 members.

Iconic Indian actress Sharmila Tagore, directors Deepa Mehta (Water, Midnight’s Children), Asif Kapadia (Senna, Amy) and Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto are some of the Indian-origin film personalities who have been invited by the Academy. The list also includes animators Sanjay Bakshi (supervising technical director, The Good Dinosaur) and Sanjay Patel (Monsters, Inc, Ratatouille, Cars).

In an announcement on Wednesday, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “This class continues our long-term commitment to welcoming extraordinary talent reflective of those working in film today." Other people in the list of invitees include Idris Elba, Eva Mendes, Brie Larson, Emma Watson and Michelle Rodriguez.

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