Why Taylor Swift and The Weeknd will help decide who gets an Oscar next year

Taylor Swift and Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd, are among those invited this year. Credit: AP

By Lily Ford, ITV News Multimedia Producer

Global popstars Taylor Swift and The Weeknd may be about to play a small part in deciding who is awarded a coveted Oscar at next year's event.

This is because they have been invited to join the Academy, alongside Oscar-nominated Irish actors Paul Mescal and Kerry Condon.

The membership has been extended to 398 individuals who have "distinguished themselves by their contributions to motion pictures".

The most famous industry greats one could think of will almost certainly be members already - Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Steven Spielberg, to name a few.

The entire organisation boasts more than 10,000 industry professionals who are required to cast votes for their Oscar winners before the results are revealed at Hollywood's glittering annual affair.

What is the Academy?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honourary organisation based in Beverly Hills, California.

It began with a man called Louis B. Mayer in 1927, who wanted to form an organisation that would mediate labour disputes without unions and improve the film industry's image.

The first-ever Academy Awards was hosted in 1929 at a private dinner in Hollywood in front of 270 people.

Mr Mayer said: "I found that the best way to handle (filmmakers) was to hang medals all over them... If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill them to produce what I wanted.

"That's why the Academy Award was created."

An image from the 21st annual Oscars in 1949 - 2023's awards were the 95th. Credit: AP

How does voting for the Oscars work now?

Over the last century, the formation and membership of the Academy has grown, and they invite more to join every year.

The thousands of members, overseen by a board of governors, are split between 18 branches - it was initially five.

This includes acting, directors, cinematographers, costume and music.

Not every member will be a film star - some people are asked to join and vote as public relations experts and hairstylists, for example.

The nominations are mostly decided by members of the relevant branch, so directors will nominate directors, and so on, but all members can nominate films for best picture.

And once nominees are decided, all voting members are eligible to cast their ballots in any category.

What does this mean for Taylor Swift and The Weeknd?

US pop superstar Taylor Swift has been listed as an invitee following her work on Where The Crawdads Sing, for which her song Carolina was not nominated for an Oscar.

Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, has earned an invite for his work on Avatar: Way Of Water, as well as Fifty Shades Of Grey, which gave him his first Academy Award nomination for best original song in 2016.

It would mean both of them will be able to vote within their branch for 2024's awards, and they would be members for life - though a membership review takes place every year.

Paul Mescal, who has risen to fame following his role in the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney's Normal People, as well as fellow best actor nominee Austin Butler, were also among the actors to be invited.

Butler lost out to Brendan Fraser in 2023's best actor race after his performance as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's biopic.

Paul Mescal, star of All of Us Strangers. Credit: AP

Meanwhile, Ke Huy Quan from Everything, Everywhere, All At Once and his co-star Stephanie Hsu were also listed, as were the film’s directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and British stars Nicholas Hoult and Lashana Lynch.

"The Academy is proud to welcome these artists and professionals into our membership," said Academy president Janet Yang.

"They represent extraordinary global talent across cinematic disciplines and have made a vital impact on the arts and sciences of motion pictures and on movie fans worldwide."

Listen to ITV News' arts and entertainment podcast, Unscripted