Nollywood actress, Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, and three other Nigerians – Femi Odugbemi, Nogi Owural, Wunmi Mosaku – were recently made voting members of The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences also known as The Oscars.
By the appointment, the four of them with other new members would be eligible to vote and determine winners of future Oscars awards starting from 2019.
Their appointment is obviously not unrelated to the Academy’s latest resolve to infuse more diversity into the awards after the #OscarsSoWhite campaign of 2015. The lack of diversity in Hollywood and on the nominees’ list was highlighted by the April Reign-led campaign which threatened the Oscars’ acceptability.
As a response to the criticisms, the Academy appointed new governors to the Board which approves new members. The Academy vowed to double the number of women and minorities in its membership over the course of four years.
The new appointments from Nigeria had three women and just one male.
As part of the reforms, The Oscars has in recent years, invited over 700 industry professionals to become new members of the Academy. Many of them were women or people of colour. Among them are Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Janelle Monaé.
A total of 928 news members were invited by the Academy this year, a huge increase when compared to the number of new intakes in the last four years: 774 in 2017; 683 in 2016; 322 in 2015; and 271 in 2014.
Nine of the 17 branches — Actors, Casting Directors, Costume Designers, Documentary, Executives, Film Editors, Makeup Artists & Hairstylists, Producers, and Public Relations — invited more women than men this year.
To become an Academy member and gaining the ability to vote on Oscars movies, a candidate must be sponsored by a member of the academy. It is not by application. The candidate to be sponsored must have demonstrated an exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures.
Qualifying for membership in the actors branch requires a candidate to have a minimum of three theatrical feature film credits, in all of which the roles played were scripted roles, one of which was released in the past five years, and all of which are of a caliber that reflects the high standards of the Academy.
After that, all eligible Academy candidates are reviewed by the Academy’s Board of Governors. If approved, the candidate will receive an invitation to become a member.
Omotola’s role interpretation in 2010 romantic drama “A private storm” and 2012 thriller “Last flight to Abuja” was received wide applause. She has appeared in over 300 films and selling millions of video copies. She is also getting accolades for her humanitarian efforts.
Ngozi Onwurah is a Nigerian-born British producer, director and lecturer who won the best short film-Melbourne film festival, Australia and best documentary -Montreal film festival, Canada for “The body beautiful”
Wunmi Mosaku is a Nigerian-born British actress who won the 2017 BAFTA TV award for Best supporting actress for her role as Gloria Taylor in the TV film “Damilola, our loved boy”
Femi Odugbemi, the only man in the list, is the award winning producer of “Tinsel” “Battleground” and a classic 2013 documentary titled “Literature, language and literalism”.
Members vote for Oscars winners by secret ballot, which can be submitted either on paper or online.