Academy expands membership to increase diversity among leadership
Actor Gael Garcia Bernal, producer Effie Brown, producer Reginald Hudlin, and 'Kung-Fu Panda' director Jennifer Yuh Nelson join ranks
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences made good on its promise to diversify leadership, announcing on Tuesday night three new board members and six members to its board committees that provide specific oversight.
The moves come as a response to criticism that the Academy is too homogenous after its Oscar nominations resulted in the group honoring an all-white group of actors.
Director and producer Reginald Hudlin, who produced last month’s 88th annual Oscars, will join the Directors Branch of the Academy. Frida and Selena screenwriter Gregory Nava will join the Writers Branch, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3, will join the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch. All three were appointed by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
“I’m proud of the steps we have taken to increase diversity,” said Boone Isaacs in a statement. “However, we know there is more to do as we move forward to make this a more inclusive organization.”
In addition, six Academy members will join specific committees:
*Actor Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle) joins the Awards and Events Committee
*Cinematographer Amy Vincent (Footloose) joins the Preservation and History Committee
*Producer Effie Brown (Dear White People) joins the Museum Committee
*Executive Marcus Hu (co-founder of Strand Releasing) and Animator Floyd Norman (Monsters, Inc.) join the Education and Outreach Committee
*Executive Vanessa Morrison (Fox Animation Studios) joins the Finance Committee
*Producer Stephanie Allain (Beyond the Lights) joins the Membership and Administration Committee
The Board also reaffirmed its decision to make sure Academy voters are active in the motion picture industry, but will allow each branch executive committee to determine specific criteria for active voters based on the guidelines initially issued. Those guidelines state that active voters must have worked in the motion picture industry in the last 10 years; worked anytime during three 10-year periods, whether consecutive or not; or have won or been nominated for an Oscar.
Many older Academy members, who had been promised lifetime voting rights when they joined the group, cried foul over this new ruling, claiming the organization was punishing them based on age, regardless of how committed they were to the influential body.
The branch executive committees will first meet this spring to review their members and will continue to meet every two years to determine which members should be listed as inactive.