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The BET Awards included tributes to Kobe Bryant and Little Richard, plus Beyoncé received a Humanitarian award from former first lady Michelle Obama.

USA TODAY

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extended invitations for 819 artists and executives to join the new class for 2020, with a major emphasis on women and minorities. 

Performers including recent best actress Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo, Awkwafina, Olivia Wilde, Zendaya, Constance Wu and others are part of a new Oscar voting class that includes 45% women, 36% underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49% international from 68 countries, the Academy announced Tuesday.

The organization said it’s surpassed inclusion goals set in 2016 as part of an initiative to double the number of women and minorities by 2020.

“We take great pride in the strides we have made in exceeding our initial inclusion goals set back in 2016, but acknowledge the road ahead is a long one,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a statement. “We are committed to staying the course.”

Increasing diversity within the group has been a major initiative since the outcry resulting from #OscarsSoWhite in January 2016, when the Academy nominated an entirely white slate of actors for a second year in a row.

Other actors invited to join this year include Tyne Daly, Zazie Beetz, Ana de Armas, Eva Longoria, Tim McGraw, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Mendelsohn, Niecy Nash, Florence Pugh, Lakeith Stanfield and John David Washington.

Among the directors, Ari Aster (“Hereditary”), Matt Reeves (“The Batman”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Matthew Vaughn (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”) are part of the 2020 class, as is longtime Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin in the music branc.

The 93rd Academy Awards, originally scheduled for Feb. 28, 2021, have been delayed to April 25 because by the coronavirus pandemic. The Oscars ceremony will air live on ABC.

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