Selma director Ava DuVernay among six newly elected to Academy's board of governors
A Wrinkle in Time and Selma director Ava DuVernay is among six individuals from the film world elected to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' board of governors.
DuVernay was selected to serve as one of three on the directors branch, while Debra Zane (Disney's live-action Mulan) was tapped for the casting directors branch, Stephen Rivkin (Avatar) was picked for the film editors branch, Linda Flowers (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) was elected for the makeup artists and hairstylists branch, Lynette Howell Taylor (A Star Is Born) was elected for the producers branch, and Rob Bredow (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) was elected for the visual effects branch.
Whoopi Goldberg (the actors branch) is among those re-elected to their positions, along with Mandy Walker (cinematographers), Isis Mussenden (costume), Kate Amend (documentary), David Linde (executives), Christina Kounelias (marketing and public relations), Charles Bernstein (music), Wynn P. Thomas (production design), Teri E. Dorman (sound), and Larry Karaszewski (writers).
The news of the first-time elected board members comes after DuVernay and her Selma star David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film, revealed that multiple Oscar voters blacklisted the movie from awards consideration after the cast showed up at the New York City premiere wearing "I Can't Breathe" T-shirts following the police killing of Eric Garner.
"Members of the Academy called in to the studio and our producers saying, 'How dare they do that?' 'Why are they stirring s—?' and 'We are not going to vote for that film because we do not think it is their place to be doing that,'" Oyelowo said in a recent interview. "It's part of why that film didn't get everything that people think it should've got, and it birthed #OscarsSoWhite. They used their privilege to deny a film on the basis of what they valued in the world."
DuVernay backed Oyelowo's account, tweeting "True story."
A representative for the Academy declined to comment at the time, but the organization replied to DuVernay and Oyelowo on Twitter, writing, "Ava & David, we hear you. Unacceptable. We're committed to progress."
The new board members bring the number of women among the Academy governors to 26 from 25, and the number of people of color to 12 from 11, including the three governors-at-large.
In the wake of the ongoing antiracism protests that rose up after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the Academy voiced support for the movement. "The death of George Floyd is not acceptable to anyone," the group said in a statement. "We stand in solidarity with our black members, colleagues, storytellers, artists, and with all black people across our nation because we know Black Lives Matter. The Academy adds its voice to the call for justice. We must shine a brighter light on racism and do our part to step up to this moment."
More specific actions weren't revealed at the time, though the Academy has faced much criticism in the past from the industry and critics for its overall lack of recognition for filmmakers, performers, and craftspeople of color, which sparked April Reign to launch the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in January 2015.