Former Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs was honored by the Icon Mann organization Tuesday, telling Variety that the diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations is a good sign: “This is about opportunity. Opportunity was given and results were there.” She added, “I don’t think it is a trend. It’s the way it should be.”
Boone Isaacs was presented with the organization’s inaugural Legacy Award, given to a person whose “body of work has positively transformed the narrative and trajectory of black culture.”
At the dinner, held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, prominent names gathered to pay tribute to Boone Isaacs, including Halle Berry, Kobe Bryant, Channing Dungey, Quincy Jones, Dee Rees and Terry Crews, with Cedric the Entertainer serving as host for the evening.
Tamara Houston, who started Icon Mann six years ago, also announced that a USC scholarships would be formed, in the name of Boone Isaacs and her brother Ashley Boone Jr., who broke barriers as Hollywood’s first black president of distribution-marketing, back in 1979 for Fox. He also held top positions at Columbia, Lorimar, MGM and others.
Icon Mann was created to build connections and dialogue between influential black men in Hollywood and show the community of support that exists with their peers.
Like the other speakers, Jones extolled Boone Isaacs’ accomplishments; he also shared personal stories about her and other attendees. At one point, he referenced Berry’s legs which was met with laughs from the audience. He also shared how he met Bryant, LeBron James, and Yao Ming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Jones asked the photographer to get a chair and to crop off everyone’s feet, so he appeared to be looking down on the NBA stars.
Berry called her Oscar win in 2002 a “crowning moment” of her life because she was the first black to win the best-actress award. She said Boone Isaacs also had first-ever moments as the only black woman to serve as Academy president. The actress admitted that she was sad to hear Boone Isaacs had termed out after four years as Academy president and could not extend, but she predicted Boone Isaacs has more first-ever moments to come.
In accepting her award, Boone Isaacs said that everyone in the room could really “talk truth about the industry and people.” She told Jones, “I always thought that whatever I said to you, it stayed with you,” which caused the audience to giggle.
She also talked about her work with Paramount and the diverse department she worked in, as well as saluting the accomplishments of her late brother. “Every single time we succeed in different areas, it was because we got the opportunity,” she said.
“I can’t stress enough how much we all must work together and combine our talents — and show all of Hollywood and show America and the world that we have arrived. We are here. We are changing, and we are going to march on,” Isaacs said.