Academy’s New Board of Governors Includes Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg the BFG
James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced its new board of governors for 2016-17, which includes director Steven Spielberg and actress Laura Dern.

The film editors branch will require a run-off election after a tie between candidates Maryann Brandon and Mark Goldblatt.

Here are the new governors elected:

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Laura Dern, actors branch
Sharen K. Davis, costume designers
Steven Spielberg, directors
Roger Ross Williams, documentary
Laura Karpman, music
Kevin Collier, sound

Returning after a hiatus are governors William M. Mechanic, executives branch; Leonard Engelman, makeup artists and hairstylists; and Craig Barron, visual effects.

The board so far includes 17 women, but that number could change, depending on the results of the film-editors runoff. (Voting will take place July 25-28.) The 2016 board includes seven people of color: Daryn Okada, Sharen K. Davis, Roger Ross Williams, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, Gregory Nava and Reginald Hudlin. The latter three were appointed as governors-at-large in January.

That’s out of a total 54 (51 elected, plus the three governors-at-large). Academy execs have been working for more inclusion in its membership and its board. The Academy demographics have long reflected the film industry as a whole; but the goal has been to add diversity, to set an example of what the industry could be.

Spielberg’s election is a coup for the Academy; even though he fits into the Caucasian-male demographics of the majority membership (and the industry as a whole), he’s a reminder to the general public that this is an organization of top professionals who have integrity and a strong social awareness.

Incumbent governors who have been re-elected include David Rubin, casting directors branch; John Bailey, cinematographers; Jan Pascale, designers; Mark Johnson, producers; Nancy Utley, public relations; Jon Bloom, short films and feature animation; and Robin Swicord, writers.

Governors serve a three-year term. Every year, one governor from each branch is up for election. The other two from the branch remain, to maintain stability and continuity. The Academy’s 17 branches are each represented by three governors, for a total of 51, plus the three governors-at-large.

Board runoffs are rare, but not unprecedented; there were also runoffs in 2009 and 2015.

“I’m honored and privileged to welcome the Academy’s new board,” said Academy president Isaacs. “I thank our members for actively participating and taking another step toward inclusion, one that will bring new ideas and perspectives as we continue to expand our global outreach while leading our community forward.”

On June 29, the Academy invited a record 683 new members, with members of the new class being 46% female and 41% people of color. The Academy membership, with the new class included, is now 27% female and 11% people of color. Before the announcement of the new class, it was just 25% female and 8% people of color.

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  1. cheri says:

    Does anyone else take offense at the use of the term “People of color”? I happen to be a Caucasian female, age 41. I thought this term had been retired before I was born, but maybe the diverse culture of being raised as a military brat gave me a unique perspective with regards to the beauty of diversity in every sense of the word.

    • Nanny Mo says:

      The new Academy under Isaacs is racist! I keep saying it over and over. It used to be a society based on talent where anyone could rise. It used to be place where “Mr. Tibbs” could be seen! Now, it’s about meeting quotas. So what is Steven, the token Jew? It’s disgusting. Go back to being a society where talent alone means everything and you will be the award to watch, not the award to snicker at.

  2. griptail says:

    you realize speilberg is a jew not white right? So being racist for no reason serves no purpose

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