The former professional basketball player wrote, executive produced and lent his voice to the Glen Keane-directed “Dear Basketball,” which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short in February.
Although the executive committee of the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch submitted their recommendation of the NBA superstar, Bryant failed to make the final cut, with the governors committee citing his lack of film experience, according to Variety. (Bryant reportedly “needed to show evidence of a larger career in the field before being allowed to represent it as a member of the organization.”)
“Dear Basketball,” a 5-minute production centered on a poem he wrote in 2015 announcing his retirement from the sport, was Bryant’s first film project.
Per the Academy’s protocol, Oscar winners and nominees are automatically considered for — but not guaranteed — inclusion in the organization. The final decision lies with the full board of governors, which will meet on Saturday and announce the list of members next week.
Bryant’s nomination and subsequent Academy Award win didn’t come without its share of controversy. The ex-Lakers star’s accomplishment was eclipsed by widespread interest in a criminal case from 2003, when Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a then-19-year-old female hotel employee in Colorado.
Although the case was eventually dropped, Bryant’s settling of a civil suit with the alleged victim outside of court brought about doubts of his innocence. At the time of the 2018 Academy Awards, an online petition made rounds seeking to revoke his Oscar.
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