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The Academy's new member class is way more diverse than ever before. Finally.

The Academy's new member class looks way different than years past.

The Academy's new member class is way more diverse than ever before. Finally.

By now, you've probably got the memo: The Oscars are really white.

That goes for Academy members, award nominees, and Renee Zellweger's dress from 2004.


You were amazing in "Cold Mountain," Renee. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Earlier this year, not a single person of color was nominated in any of the acting categories. The same happened in 2015.

And it wasn't as though there weren't plenty of deserving non-white candidates.

Idris Elba in "Beast of No Nation" was one of the standout snubs this year. Photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images.

Sadly, the past two years weren't anomalies; the Oscars have a long history of being far too monochromatic, so to speak.

The acting nods in 2015 and 2016, however, were so strikingly lily white, the internet couldn't help but call it like it is.

Thus, #OscarsSoWhite became a thing.


The hashtag, started on Twitter by April Reign last year, became a viral outcry demanding the Academy do something — anything! — to start acknowledging actors of color and their stories on Hollywood's biggest night of the year.

And, believe it or not, it looks like those efforts are starting to pay off.

The Academy just released a list of new members invited to join this year, and it's more diverse than ever before.

Of the 683 individuals invited to become Academy members — the people whose votes actually decide who's nominated — 41% are people of color and 46% are women (because, yes, the Academy has an enormous gender gap problem too).

Those figures are unprecedented.


The new membership class certainly doesn't solve the Oscars' diversity problem, of course. But it's a huge step forward.

It'll take some time for the Academy's demographics to shift enough to accurately reflect the real world, seeing as there's more than 6,000 voting members, and the group overall largely consists of people you'd expect to see in the waiting lounge of an outlet shopping mall: older, white, straight males.

GIF from "Gran Torino."

With the diverse makeup of the incoming class joining the ranks, the Academy will go from 8% to 11% people of color overall. And that's significant.

Although that increase may seem measly, a three-percentage point hike in just one year isn't anything to shrug at.

We just need to make sure the trend keeps going in the right direction. Because fair media representation is about more than just diversity for the sake of diversity — the films and TV we watch affect how we see ourselves and the world around us.

What's the best part about the new member class? Learning who got invited into the exclusive club.

"Star Wars'" John Boyega, for instance, made the cut.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

So did "Ugly Betty's" America Ferrera.

Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly.

And "Lost's" Daniel Dae Kim.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.

It appears the Academy is also making efforts to include more LGBTQ talents as well, with Lilly and Lana Wachowski — directors of "The Matrix" who are both transgender — receiving member invites this year.

If we can learn anything about the new Academy membership class, it's that, yes, hashtags do have power.

People like to scoff at the idea of hashtag-activism — and there's certainly reasons why hashtag activism might be a flawed method of evoking tangible change — but as evidenced by the results of #OscarsSoWhite, viral movements can make a real world difference.

Sometimes, a single tweet — like the one below — can spark the biggest, most influential institutions to change.


It will take time and effort to ensure the people winning Oscars look more like the actual audience tuning in.

But judging from this year's new membership class, we're on the right path.

It might be a challenge,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs told The Hollywood Reporter of ensuring diversity throughout the years to come. “But we are continuing to keep that pedal to the metal.”

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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