×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar & Diversity: Academy President Talks About How to Bring Change

At a Q&A luncheon Tuesday, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the org hopes studio executives will expand their thinking in terms of diversity but stated, “The Academy has no power over Hollywood. We have nothing to do with hiring.”

She said many non-industry people believe the Academy controls decisions about greenlights, hiring and casting, but that’s in the hands of studios and agencies. “What we can do, however, is to get them to widen their normal stream of thought.” AMPAS is encouraging members to mentor and promote diverse workers within the industry — not hiring them because they’re a minority, but because they are good workers who just happen to be in a minority. She quoted recent Emmy winner Viola Davis as saying that the key is to get the same opportunities as everyone else.

The Q&A was for Town Hall Los Angeles, an ongoing series of meet-and-greets between newsmakers and L.A. business and community leaders. Moderating the session was Val Zavala, VP of news and public affairs at KCET, who cited a recent study showing that of 700 recent top-grossing films, only 11% had gender balance in its onscreen characters.

Boone Isaacs, who has been teaching for 12 years, pointed out that sometimes diversity problems start even before the entry level; despite the boom in college courses devoted to film and TV, “an issue for most film schools is lack of diversity.”

At the session, conducted at the City Club in downtown L.A., Boone Isaacs tried to dispel some misperceptions about the Academy by pointing out the breadth of its work; way beyond Oscars are its Margaret Herrick Library, the Student Academy Awards, fellowships and preservation programs, and many other initiatives.

Asked about the impact of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, slated to open in 2017, she said it will be good for the Miracle Mile, for the city as a whole and for the industry. “We are looking to immerse the visitor into the world of filmmaking, with all the work, technology and the glamour that it entails.” The challenge is to not make it seem like a “museum,” with artifacts from the past, but to make it about the present and the future, so that a museum-goer can say, “Wow, I didn’t know that.”

Though she applauded the boom in exhibition and distribution around the world, Boone Isaacs said Hollywood films are special to people everywhere, and the goal is “to get everybody to make most of their movies back here.” She added, “We are at the forefront.”

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

  • David Lindelof Watchmen Premiere

    'Watchmen' Creator Damon Lindelof Weighs in on Martin Scorsese's Marvel Criticisms

    Damon Lindelof disagrees with Martin Scorsese about his recent claims that Marvel movies don’t qualify as cinema. The director’s proclamation, along with the polarized critical reception of “Joker,” are the latest salvos in a long history of questioning comic book movies’ place in cinematic history. The lingering question: Can superhero fare be considered “high art?” [...]

  • Anne Hathaway Modern Love

    Anne Hathaway Talks Mental Health Awareness, Playing a Bipolar Woman on Amazon's 'Modern Love'

    In Amazon Prime’s upcoming “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway sheds light on an important facet of living with mental health issues, playing a bipolar woman who struggles with dating. “We’re all becoming more sensitive, wiser and more cognizant of gentility, and especially emotional gentility. I think those conversations are starting to happen. And I think the desire [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content