- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thor, Captain America, Wonder Woman and Betty White have been invited to join the film academy.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed its latest invitees on Wednesday, which include several artists from the worlds of action and comedy.

“We are looking in areas that historically we hadn’t,” film academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in an interview. The organization invited 774 new members to join its ranks - the largest class ever.

Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Gal Gadot, all famous for their superhero roles, were invited to join the actors’ branch. Other actors receiving invites include White, Dwayne Johnson, Riz Ahmed, Terry Crews, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Priyanka Chopra, Donald Glover and Zoe Kravitz. Several “Saturday Night Live” alumnae were also invited: Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph and current stars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.

“It takes a lot to be a comedic actor,” Boone Isaacs said, “and certainly the branch is recognizing this talent.”

She said the organization’s efforts toward inclusivity may have inspired interest among a broader range of prospective members, who must be sponsored by existing members to be considered.

The film academy reports that its new class is 39 percent female and 30 percent non-white. The organization has been diversifying its ranks after two years of #OscarsSoWhite and criticism of its overwhelmingly white and male voting body. Women now comprise 28 percent of academy membership and non-whites account for 13 percent.

“This conversation that the academy has been having for the last couple years has really energized our base, has really energized our members and the community,” Boone Isaacs said.

Besides including filmmakers from traditionally overlooked genres, the new class of invitees also represents 57 countries.

“We’ve recognized great talent around the world, but in one area we were not as active, and that is membership,” she said.

Oscar nominees are automatically considered for membership. “Moonlight” writer-director Barry Jenkins has been invited to join both branches, but he’ll have to pick one. “Hidden Figures” director Theodore Melfi and documentarian Ezra Edelman (“O.J.: Made in America”) also received invitations.

Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”), Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) and Phil Johnston (“Zootopia”) were invited to the writers’ branch. “Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele was invited to both writing and directing branches, while his Comedy Central collaborator Keegan-Michael Key, was invited to join the actors’ branch.

The music branch extended invites to Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake, Nick Cave, Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam and “La La Land” composers Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Justin Hurwitz.

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

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