Kobe Bryant denied entry into Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Kobe Bryant, who won an Academy Award for animated short film 'Dear Basketball' has been denied entry into the Academy.


                            Kobe Bryant denied entry into Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

NBA legend and Oscar-winner Kobe Bryant has been denied entry into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is the body in charge of hosting the annual Academy Awards, numerous reports have confirmed. Membership into the academy is by invitation only, with the invitation coming from the Board of Governors and eligibility earned through earning a competitive Oscar nomination, or by the sponsorship of two current Academy members from the same branch to which the candidate seeks admission. 

Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film 'Dear Basketball.' which he also wrote and narrated. Based on a letter penned by the basketball star for The Players' Tribune when he announced his retirement from basketball in 2015, it was directed and animated by Glen Keane, with its win making Bryant eligible for an entry into the academy. 

Bryant and Keane won the Oscar for the animated short film 'Dear Basketball' (Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Bryant and Keane won the Oscar for the animated short film 'Dear Basketball' (Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The members of the Academy's Short Films and Feature Animation branch which he sought entry into voted to allow him in, though that decision was later overruled by the governors' committee, Variety reported. While the branch's governor, Bill Kroyer, had argued that Bryant had expressed enough of a desire to work in the short film space, the committee supposedly felt that he needed to show evidence of a larger career in the field before being granted admission.

The roster of the Academy's approximately 8,000-odd members is said to be a 'closely guarded secret,' but consists of members predominantly from the United States. However, controversy arose when it was revealed that 94% of the members were white, with 77% of those males. As the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite began to trend and the severe underrepresentation of minorities and people of color became public knowledge, there was a concentrated effort to diversify the academy — in 2016, they invited 683 new members that were made up of nearly half women and people of color.

However, this led to suggestions that many of the new members were added to make up the numbers and did not boast of the CV to justify that inclusion. With Bryant's public rejection, it seems that the board is, after all, keeping into account the fact that standards have to be preserved when it comes to welcoming candidates. 

There was also opposition to Bryant's inclusion because of his chequered history with sexual misdemeanor. Bryant was accused of sexual assault in the summer of 2003 by a 19-year-old, but the case was subsequently dropped after the accuser refused to testify at the trial. And there was a recent precedent to deny him the membership as well.

Harvey Weinstein became one of just four members — with Carmine Caridi, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski — to be expelled from the academy this past October after dozens of women came out to level allegations of sexual assault and rape against the Miramax supremo, and the subsequent #TimesUp and #MeToo movements birthed since have raised their voice against other miscreants. 

The organization's Board of Governors has a final say on the approval of invitations, with it possible that they overrule the committee's decision. However, such a decision seems highly unlikely.