Plagued with the ugly aftermath following two years of #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is beginning its ambitious movement to further diversity within it ranks. Late Tuesday saw the announcement made by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs of a team of highly diverse industry professionals promoted to leadership levels within the Academy. Three new governors- selected by Isaacs- have just been added to the fifty-one person board: Reginald Hudlin (Directors Branch), Gregory Nava (Writers Branch) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Short Films and Feature Animation Branch).
Hudlin has been an active member of the industry for over thirty years and is a prominent producer, director, writer and sometimes actor. He has directed the films House Party (1990), Boomerang (1992) and The Ladies Man (2000) and was nominated for an Oscar for co-producing Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He recently co-produced the most recent Oscar telecast. Nava has written and directed the critically admired My Family (1995) and Selena (1997) and penned the screenplay for the Oscar-winning biopic Frida (2002); he received an Oscar nomination for writing the 1983 drama El Norte. Nelson directed both Kung Fu Panda 2 (receiving an Oscar nomination) and the recent Kung Fu Panda 3.
Additionally, a few more Academy members have been promoted to each of the six Board committees:
- Actor Gael García Bernal (Babel) joins the Awards and Events Committee.
- Cinematographer Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow) joins the Preservation and History Committee.
- Producer Effie Brown (Dear White People) joins the Museum Committee.
- Executive Marcus Hu and Animator Floyd Norman (Monsters, Inc.) join the Education and Outreach Committee.
- Executive Vanessa Morrison joins the Finance Committee, chaired by Treasurer Jim Gianopulos.
- Producer Stephanie Allain (Beyond the Lights) joins the Membership and Administration Committee.
“I’m proud of the steps we have taken to increase diversity. However, we know there is more to do as we move forward to make this a more inclusive organization,” acknowledged Boone Isaacs. Another highly scrutinized piece of the diversity initiative the Academy lies within the voting membership as it is. The Academy has put some definition behind the “active” voting membership guidelines within the Academy. Active voters must: 1) have worked in the motion picture industry some point in the last 10 years; 2) have worked at some point during three 10-year periods, consecutive or not; 3) have either won or been nominated for an Oscar.
Committees will meet ever two years to review membership requirements and see whether additional changes are needed. There will also be an open appeals process for members who may be losing their voting privileges. This story will continue to develop and we will continue to follow.