25 brilliant, badass, genius actors and musicians who are diversifying the Oscars.

In 2018, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got much larger — and more diverse.

The Oscar-granting organization sent out 928 invitations (a jump from the previous year's 774) to actors, screenwriters, and executives that have shown dedication and exceptional work in the film industry. Those invitations set out make the organization more female, more ethnically diverse, and more international.

928 is a huge number, but we've listed some familiar faces that are joining the esteemed body below:


1. Gina Rodriguez ("Annihilation," "Deepwater Horizon")

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.

An outspoken defender of women's rights, immigration reform, and the importance of diversity in film, Rodriguez publicly accepted the award with glee.

2. Jada Pinkett Smith ("Girls Trip," "Set It Off")

Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

As one of the first actresses to call out the Oscars' diversity problem, Pinkett Smith's decadeslong work is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.

3. Mindy Kaling ("Ocean's Eight," "A Wrinkle in Time")

Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images.

4. Tiffany Haddish ("Girls Trip," "Keanu")

Photo by Emma McIntyre Getty Images for MTV.

5. Kumail Nanjiani ("The Big Sick," "Hello, My Name Is Doris")

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Women in Film.

Nanjiani's public recollection of falling in love with the woman who would become his wife during her life-threatening sickness warmed the hearts of romantics around the world. A vibrant defender of equal rights and the importance of diversity in film, Nanjiani is sure to add some necessary perspective to the Academy.

6. Danai Gurira ("Black Panther," "Mother of George")

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

7. Quvenzhané Wallis ("Annie," "Beasts of the Southern Wild")

Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images for Essence.

At just 14 years old, Wallis is the youngest member of this year's Academy cohort.

8. Sarah Silverman ("Battle of the Sexes," "Wreck-It Ralph")

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

9. Wendell Pierce ("Selma," "Horrible Bosses")

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Pierce may be one of the hardest working men in Hollywood and on the ground. As a hilarious and thoughtful advocate of community engagement and diversity in film, he's a welcome addition.

10. Trevante Rhodes ("12 Strong," "Moonlight")

Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for GLAAD.

"Moonlight" warmed the hearts of many Americans, in large part thanks to Rhodes' brilliant depiction of black gay manhood.

11. Christine Baranski ("Miss Sloane," "Mamma Mia!")

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions.

12. Hannibal Buress ("Blockers," "Spider-Man: Homecoming")

Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images.

13. Taye Diggs ("Rent," "Chicago")

Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for Gotham Magazine.

It's clear that there are few things that Diggs can't do. Now, he can add being on the Academy to that list.

14. Ken Jeong ("Crazy Rich Asians," "The Hangover")

Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images.

15. Joy Bryant ("Bobby," "Get Rich or Die Tryin'")

Photo by  Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

16. Kendrick Lamar ("Black Panther," "Divergent")

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS.

Lamar also won a Pulitzer in 2018 for his rap genius. Enough said.

17. J.K. Rowling ("Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," "Harry Potter")

Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

Humanitarian. Writer. Bringer of joy to millions of children and adults for decades. Rowling is the epitome of using one's talents in spite of setbacks to make the world a better place. Her voice in the Academy will make waves.

18. Amy Schumer ("I Feel Pretty," "Trainwreck")

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Schumer isn't one to back down from a challenge. She's a hard worker, a fighter, and an important voice in feminist film.

19. Regina Hall ("Girls Trip," "Scary Movie")

Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images.

Hall's recognition is long overdue, but it's awesome that it's finally here.

20. Derek Luke ("Miracle at St. Anna," "Antwone Fisher")

Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images.

21. Daniel Kaluuya ("Black Panther," "Get Out")

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Huffington Post.

A breakout star of 2017, Kaluuya's rise in film has been fast, powerful, and extremely important.

22. Rashida Jones ("Celeste and Jesse Forever," "The Social Network")

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

23. Kal Penn ("The Namesake," "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle")

Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.

24. Randall Park ("Ant-Man and the Wasp," "Snatched")

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

25. Mía Maestro ("The Motorcycle Diaries," "Frida")

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for LACMA.

Maestro's genius were evident in "Frida" and many other films. This acknowledgement is extremely well deserved.

And that's just 25 of them.

This year, the Academy is more Asian, Latino, black, female, and queer, representing the wide array of experiences around the world. Our film industry will be better for it, and so will the audiences that tune in.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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