Two music artists among 395 invited to join the Oscars Class of 2021

FilAm R&B singer H.E.R.; composer Len Calvo. Instagram photos

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 395 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures, according to a statement from the Academy. Industry insiders say the move to expand membership will promote racial diversity as the Oscar awards appear to favor mostly white actors and artists.

The statement said membership selection decisions are based on professional qualifications, with representation, inclusion and equity remaining a priority of Academy Aperture 2025.  The 2021 class is 46% women, 39% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 53% international from 49 countries outside of the United States.  There are 89 Oscar nominees, including 25 winners, among the invitees.

“Eight individuals have been invited to join the Academy by multiple branches.  These individuals must select one branch upon accepting membership.

“To enable steady future growth and to ensure the necessary infrastructure, staff resources and environment to support all Academy members, the number invited to membership was limited to roughly half that of recent years. 

“The Academy’s Board of Governors voted on branch-specific guidelines to be applied in determining this year’s new membership invitees.  Oscar winners and nominees were considered without limitation by applicable branches.  Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2021.”

New members in the Music category.

Among those invited to join the Class of 2021 are Filipino American R&B singer and songwriter H.E.R, and Manila-based composer Len Calvo.

H.E.R. – real name: Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson — was born in California to a Filipina mother and an African American father. She won the 2021 Oscars’ Original Song Award for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” a film about the 1960s leader of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. In the Bay Area where she used to sing, she was known as Gabi Wilson. Her album, “I Used to Know Her,” earned five Grammy nominations. This year, she grabbed a pair of Grammys for Song of the Year and Best R&B Song for “Better than I Imagined.”  One of her songs was used as the soundtrack in the Netflix series “Dear White People.”

She explained to James Corden how she became a singer and why music is such a big part of her life. “I’m half Filipino and Filipinos love karaoke,” she said. “So yeah, I love to sing, I’ve always been around music my entire life and I just gravitated towards instruments.” She plays the guitar.

Composer, music arranger, and singer Len Calvo, who is based in Manila, is also set to join the Music Branch of the Academy Class of 2021, according to a statement from the Film Development Council of the Philippines. She has won numerous musical scoring awards from the Film Academy of the Philippines and the Gawad Urian. She received acclaim for her work in “Pan de Salawal,” the story of a gifted girl with mysterious healing powers who formed a friendship with her older neighbor. Many of Calvo’s films are Philippine productions and have screened in the international film festival circuit. Her latest. “Finding Agnes” is being aired through Netflix.

Here are the 2021 invitees.

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