Streep and conductor James Levine are the newest members of the 112-year-old institution, which also counts Stephen Sondheim, Twyla Tharp, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Toni Morrison among its members. Streep and Levine were both elected to a special category for "Americans of great distinction in the arts whose work falls outside the traditional departments' of music (composition), literature, and art."
Streep told the Post that on hearing the news, "I have to say that I was stunned, and when they sent me the roster of people in the academy I just burst into tears. I couldn't believe that I'd even be allowed in the kitchen."
The academy's President, poet J.D. McClatchy, noted, "Both of this year's inductees are performing artists, and both are at the peaks of their careers. James Levine's conducting and Meryl Streep's acting are extraordinary examples of insight, depth and virtuosity." Streep is the first academy member to be chosen based solely on her acting work. Her stage credits include Mother Courage and Her Children, The Seagull, Measure for Measure, Happy End, The Cherry Orchard, A Memory of Two Mondays/27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Tony nomination) and Secret Service. She received Oscars for her work in "Sophie's Choice" and "Kramer vs. Kramer," out of a record 16 nominations. She also won seven Golden Globes and two Emmys (for the miniseries "Angels in America" and "Holocaust").
Inductees into the academy's honorary foreign artists category include architects Fumihiko Maki (Japan) and Alvaro Siza (Portugal). The main body elected authors Marilynne Robinson, Francine Prose, Thomas McGuane and Richard Powers; composers Tania Leon and Fred Lerdahl; architect Thom Mayne and painters Thomas Nozknowski and Peter Saul to membership, which is for life.