Academy Increases Diversity Push by Adding Three Governors

Reginald Hudlin Gregory Nava Jennifer Yuh
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences furthered its efforts at diversity by adding three members to the board of governors, and six members to various board committees.

The board OK’d president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’s choices of Reginald Hudlin (directors branch), Gregory Nava (writers branch) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (short films and feature animation). They will serve three-year terms, effective immediately.

“I’m proud of the steps we have taken to increase diversity,” said Boone Isaacs. “However, we know there is more to do as we move forward to make this a more inclusive organization.”

The board also appointed additional Academy members to each of the six board committees that provide oversight to specific Academy areas.

Actor Gael García Bernal joins the awards and events committee, chaired by first VP Jeffrey Kurland. Cinematographer Amy Vincent joins the preservation and history committee, chaired by VP John Bailey. Producer Effie Brown joins the museum committee, chaired by VP Kathleen Kennedy. Executive Marcus Hu and animator Floyd Norman join the education and outreach committee, chaired by VP Bill Kroyer. Executive Vanessa Morrison joins the finance committee, chaired by treasurer Jim Gianopulos. Producer Stephanie Allain joins the membership and administration committee, chaired by secretary Phil Robinson.

These people will not be governors, but will have a say in membership and governance. The goal is to bring in new voices with different POVs, to counter criticism that the Academy was losing touch with the realities of filmmaking today.

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The board also reaffirmed its Jan. 21 resolution to make sure Academy voters are active in the motion picture industry. In Tuesday’s meeting, the board decided that each branch executive committee will determine specific criteria for active voters based on the guidelines established in January.  Active voters are defined as: those who have worked in the motion picture industry in the last 10 years; those who have worked anytime during three 10-year periods whether consecutive or not; members who have won or been nominated for an Oscar.

The branch executive committees will meet every two years — starting this spring — to review their members and determine any potential reclassifications. The committees also will adopt an appeals process for members who may lose their voting privileges.

The additions to the board and to the committees were predicted in Variety March 10.

There are 51 members on the board, with each of the 17 branches repped by three governors. All of those governors are elected, so the addition of three appointees is a subtle but important move. While many women and members of minorities ran for board elections last year, most of them lost out to incumbents.

The board has increased gradually over the years. In 1978, for example, there were 12 branches. The most recent addition came in July 2013, when AMPAS added three governors when it created the casting-directors branch. However, each addition has represented an expansion of the standing system. Tuesday’s decision represents the first time that the board is being restructured, to include governors who do not represent any particular branch and who are not elected by the membership.

Academy diversity has been a hot topic for several years, and went into overdrive with the Jan. 14 announcement of Oscar nominations. The Academy was the focus of social media’s #OscarsSoWhite protests (even though showbiz workers say that Oscars just reflect the imbalance within the film industry). On Jan. 21, the board held an emergency meeting, and the following day announced several plans, including the addition of three governors “in order to immediately increase diversity on the board.” No timetable was announced at that point.

Tuesday marked the first board meeting since the Feb. 28 Oscar ceremonies, and while the board undoubtedly discussed the show, no statements were made. The Academy never discloses its board agenda in advance. However, they will likely make decisions about the Oscarcast in May and June. Typically, committees study various aspects of the awards season and the ceremony and make recommendations in May and June to the board, at which point they are voted on.

The board holds regular meetings to discuss ongoing topics (awards, the museum, AMPAS finances, etc.). The group usually assembles in the evening, for a session that lasts a few hours. Tuesday’s meeting started in the morning, a clue that the discussion might be complex — or worthy of an announcement the same day. (Usually, the Academy issues news of board results the following day.)

 

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  1. Dennis Joseph says:

    This is just too funny not to laugh. Political correctness run amok. Adding 3 different minorities BECAUSE they are minorities is a racist action in and of itself, not a justifiable remedy. It reduces the individuals to token status, and makes the Academy’s intent appear all the more insincere.

  2. Bry says:

    Congratulations all! It’s exciting to see a warrior princess like Jennifer rip out the entrails of prejudice in this industry.

  3. Andrea says:

    And still no stunt category!? So the Casting Directors gets a branch for calling the person the director asks for, but the Stunt Coordinator that creates, casts, executes and often directs the action gets ignored?
    As far as diversity goes, the stunt community is the most diverse. We come in every shape, size, height, sex and skin color!
    #Standupforstunts

  4. jonnyrp says:

    Racism goes beyond skin colour sadly, and seeing as how different ethnicities, religions and flow of thoughts aren’t being represented and/or given credit in the industry it goes further than the sole LGBT and black communities.

    On the other hand, as there is really sexism and racism in Hollywood, what about the people thinking that all black people should or have naturally voted Obama in 2008? If that ain’t racism to judge a book by it’s cover and then make it a reason to prefer and favour 1 skin colour, ethnicity or sex and religion only not to sound racist…

    Yeah, just like someone else commented: Will Smith isn’t deserving of the praise he or his fans would like him to get recently. And not only for his movies results at the box office in my opinion. He thinks he’s the greatest movie star in the world apparently (See below) and what about his son doing the sign of the cross with a T-Shirt representing Jesus? And pretending he’s that revolutionary himself? Don’t this kid know what comparing yourself to a white Jewish revolutionary when you’re some entertainer’s kid and you’re black should mean?

  5. Wesley Lovell says:

    I see diversity does not extend to the LGBT community, which has been severely underrepresented in the Academy and in the film industry.

    • Cinephile says:

      Such as this year when there wasn’t a transgender nominee in best original song, a gay winner in the same category, nor did the films about a lesbian love affair and a transgender gather a collective 10 nominations. Such under-representation should be condemned.

  6. anonymous says:

    who the fuck cares…its about content and the entertainment value not the skin color …will smiths just pissed off After Earth lost $ and Concussion took a massive blow to the head financially $$$

  7. Jolo says:

    Affirmative action hits the oscars would of been a better headline.

  8. crossie says:

    Way to go, Jennifer! Big fan!

  9. Nanny Mo says:

    Racism in a once proud Academy, it makes my heart sick to see it.

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