Brow Beat

Oscar Winner Kobe Bryant’s Invitation to Join the Academy Has Been Rescinded

Kobe Bryant enters the Governor's Ball, holding his Academy Award.
“Thanks for nothing, the Academy!”
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Retired NBA star Kobe Bryant won’t be joining the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences despite adding an Academy Award to his five championship rings earlier this year, Variety reports. Winning or being nominated for an Oscar is often a way to be considered for Academy membership, and, in Bryant’s case, the Short Films and Feature Animation branch voted to invite him to join. But the Academy’s Governor’s Committee has overruled the branch’s decision and rescinded his invitation. Officially, the committee decided that Bryant needed a more robust film career before joining the Academy, but the decision takes place in the wake of public outcry at Bryant’s Oscar nomination and win because of his alleged rape of a 19-year-old hotel employee in 2003.

Bryant won his Oscar for producing “Dear Basketball,” an animated short about his career directed by Glen Keane. As Nick Greene wrote for Slate, Bryant’s win was a “surprising throwback” in the year of the #MeToo movement, given the way his case became an emblematic example of the harms that could come to women who reported sexual assault. Bryant’s defense focused on his accuser’s sexual history, and her identity and past became tabloid fodder; his accuser dismissed the charges a week before trial began in exchange for an apology while a civil case was settled out of court. After Bryant’s Academy Award nomination, more than 17,000 people signed a petition asking that it be taken away. The committee’s decision could technically still be overruled by the Board of Governors before this year’s invitations are announced Monday, but this is a remote possibility.