This year's Academy cohort just upped the number of women in the organization. Hell yes.

This year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has become a lot bigger — and more diverse.

The Academy of Motion Pictures invited a record 928 new members, making the 2018 class the largest in history.

Photo by Emma McIntyre Getty Images for for Motion Picture & Television Fund.


Not only is this year’s class the largest, but it’s also made for a more inclusive class across race and gender.

The new Oscars class is now 49% female, boosting the Academy’s total representation of women to 31%, a history-making percentage.

It’s a welcome change that’s long overdue.

Many of the Academy’s newest members, from Jada Pinkett Smith to Kumail Nanjiani to Gina Rodriguez, have all been outspoken members of the Academy’s lack of diversity and representation in the organization structure and award-winning films.

"Begging for acknowledgement, or even asking, diminishes dignity and diminishes power,” Pinkett Smith once said in a video after opting to boycott the Oscars in 2016 for its lack of diversity.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.

Her complaints weren’t off. The lack of diversity and acknowledgment on work from women and people of color in American and international film has been appalling. A report from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that just over 70% of speaking roles in 2016’s top films were white, and aside from 2011, there were a mere 34 unique female directors that released films between 2007 and 2016. And, directors of color have been historically underrepresented for decades.

But thanks to the work of activist April Reign and many actors of all backgrounds, it’s clear that the Academy heard them loud and clear, and is finally putting action behind their words.

The auspicious organization is now more black, Asian, Latino, queer, immigrant, and female, marking a new beginning for what excellence in film means.

With new members like comedian Tiffany Haddish, director Chloe Zhou, and rapper Kendrick Lamar, it’s clear that the Academy is making it clear that not only is not only is diversity important on screen, it’s important in decision making.

Photo by Charly Triballeau AFP/Getty Images.

Members of the Academy help make decisions about industry content, and help orient the ideas behind what it means to make a good film. Those decisions will now be influenced by a diverse, talented team of professionals. It'll likely be good for business.

Minorities accounted for the majority of ticket sales for five of the top 10 films in 2016, and Americans increasingly desire more diverse films and leads according to a report from UCLA Social Sciences.

With new and diverse actors, directors, writers, and musicians given a seat at the table, the world can get more "Moonlights," "The Big Sicks," and "Cocos."

That is, movies that tell the stories that historically have not been told.

With an Academy class like this, it’s clear that not only do actors and the general public want more diversity, but those who are highest ranking do, too. Thank goodness.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

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Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

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The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

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Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."