Kobe Bryant passed the first step toward joining the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences — but garnering an Oscar was ultimately not enough for the Los Angeles Lakers player to gain membership.
In March, the longtime NBA star won an Oscar for Dear Basketball, the animated short centring on his farewell ode to the game, written as he neared retirement after the 2015-16 season. Bryant shared the Oscar with director Glen Keane, a Disney Legend known for such animated movies as Tangled, Pocahontas and Beauty and the Beast.
Bryant was the first African-American creator to win an animated-short Oscar. Even an Oscar nomination often brings consideration for admittance into the Academy, which has more than 8000 members — and which has sought to increase its racial, gender and age diversity in recent years in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite campaign.
After his win, the Short Film and Feature Animation branch of the Academy voted to admit Bryant into their branch. But the Academy's governors committee overruled that vote and rescinded the invite, as Cartoon Brew first reported on Wednesday.
The official reason was that Bryant needed to show "some evidence of a larger career" in the animation field before he'd be permitted to represent it as an Academy member, according to a letter from Bill Kroyer, a governor of the animation branch, as obtained by Cartoon Brew.
Yet it could not have helped Bryant's case that his nomination and win drew some criticism in the heat of the #MeToo movement. More than 17,000 people signed a Care2 petition early this year, citing his sexual assault case. (The Washington Post has put in a request for comment from the Academy.)
Bryant was accused of rape in 2003, settling a civil suit out of court after the criminal case was dropped.
The Academy's animation nominees this year included not only Bryant's film, but also two Disney/Pixar movies — the feature film Coco and the short Lou — that listed John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar and Disney Animation chief, as an executive producer.
Disney announced on June 8 that Lasseter will step down at the end of the year from his role leading the studios, after admitting to "missteps" in his behavior with employees.
Cartoon Brew reported that the Academy's animation branch will not appeal the committee's decision on Bryant.