Barkhad Abdi invited to join Motion Picture Academy


Minneapolis actor Barkhad Abdi was invited Thursday to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The invite marks the latest prestigious honor to come Abdi's way since the release of the high-seas thriller "Captain Phillips" last October. The first-time actor was nominated for an Oscar, Critics Choice Movie Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for playing the lead villain in the film opposite Tom Hanks, and also won a British Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The Academy invited 271 people to join the organization in all. Only 20 of those invited were actors, including Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o and Best Supporting Actor nominee Michael Fassbender from "12 Years a Slave," and former Oscar host Chris Rock.

With the invites, Abdi and other new members will now be eligible to vote on upcoming Oscar celebrations.

THR says the selection of this year's class "reflects a clear desire, on the part of Hollywood's most prestigious awards-dispensing group, to shed its image as a club of old white American men, and to become younger, hipper and more diverse and worldly – as quickly as possible." Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs confirmed the effort toward more diversity in the Academy's ranks in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

"The academy is committed to bringing new voices into our ranks," Isaacs told the Times. "We are encouraging our members to be our ambassadors, looking for folks of color, gender and international status to become members. This has been an initiative here for a number of years, and some are a little better than others -- but we’re committed to diversify."

THR awards analyst Scott Feinberg appeared to question Abdi's inclusion of the class, though, since "Captain Phillips" was the actor's debut performance.

Feinberg asks: "Can one really justify inviting 'Captain Phillips' star Barkhad Abdi, as lovely as he may be, on the basis of just one big screen performance?"

IndieWire has a complete list of the people invited to join the organization.

Fresh off his Oscar nomination, reports surfaced that Abdi was "dead broke." Since then, however, he was cast in director Judd Apatow's upcoming comedy "Trainwreck," which is set to be released July 24, 2015, Variety said.

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