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Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has appointed three new members of the board of governors, it was announced Tuesday. They are Reginald Hudlin, Gregory Nava and Jennifer Yuh Nelson.
In its efforts to diversify voices within the organization, the Academy board also appointed additional Academy members to each of the board’s six oversight committees.
Mexico-born actor Gael Garcia Bernal, whose credits range from Y Tu Mama Tambien to the current Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, is joining the awards and events committee, chaired by first vp Jeffrey Kurland; cinematographer Amy Vincent, whose work includes Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, is joining the preservation and history committee, chaired by vp John Bailey; producer Effie Brown, who emerged as a champion of diversity in the recent edition of HBO’s Project Greenlight, is joining the museum committee, chaired by vp Kathleen Kennedy; executive Marcus Hu, co-founder of the indie distributor Strand Releasing, and animator Floyd Norman, whose long list of credits encompass work on the 1967 animated Jungle Book and 2001’s Monsters Inc., are joining the education and outreach committee, chaired by vp Bill Kroyer; executive Vanessa Morrison, president of Fox Animation, is joining the finance committee, chaired by treasurer Jim Gianopulos; and producer Stephanie Allain, director of Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival, is joining the membership and administration committee, chaired by secretary Phil Robinson.
The Academy announced that the board also reaffirmed its resolution, adopted in January, that Academy members must be active in the industry to maintain voting privileges. Under the guidelines enunciated in today’s announcement, an active voter is defined as a member who has worked in the motion picture industry during the last 10 years; or who has worked anytime during three 10-year periods whether consecutive or not; or who has won or been nominated for an Academy Award.
The voting rules, as currently formulated, do not appear to specifically address when the qualifying periods begin when a new member is admitted to the Academy or whether a new member’s qualifying work can be post-dated to begin during an earlier period in his or her career. The new announcement also said that the executive committee of each branch “will determine specific criteria for active voters” based on the above guidelines. A spokesperson for the Academy explained that the current formulation is not meant to be “a one-size-fits-all formula for making decisions about our members, because each branch can be more varied in how they implement” the guidelines.
As part of the new regulations designed to promote diversity and approved by the board of governors on Jan. 21, three new seats have been added to the 51-member board of governors. The Academy president nominates who will fill those seats, which are earmarked for women and people of color, and those nominations then must be confirmed by the board. The board held a second vote at Tuesday’s board of governors meeting to approve bylaws allowing for the new governors and approve the specific nominees.
The other members of the board are all elected by their respective branches, with each of the 17 branches represented by three governors on the board.
In announcing the Academy’s latest moves, Boone Isaacs said: “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.”
Hudlin, one of the three new governors, is a member of the executive branch and produced the recent 88th Oscars with David Hill. He boasts extensive film and TV credits as both director (House Party, Boomerang, The Ladies Man) and producer (Django Unchained, for which he was Oscar-nominated). He is currently directing Marshall, a biopic about Thurgood Marshall starring Chadwick Boseman.
Nava, a member of the writers branch, has written and directed such films as El Norte (for which he received a best original screenplay nomination) and Selena and wrote 2002’s Frida.
Yuh Nelson, a member of the short films and feature animation branch, directed Kung Fu Panda 2 (for which she was Oscar-nominated) and the new Kung Fu Panda 3, which she directed with Alessandro Carloni.
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James Gordon Meek