Academy Elects Steven Spielberg, Laura Dern to Board of Governors

steven spielberg and laura dern_Split - Getty - H 2016
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steven spielberg and laura dern_Split - Getty - H 2016

While two new minority members, Roger Ross Williams and Sharen K. Davis, are joining the board, the number of women on the board remains essentially the same.

Steven Spielberg, representing the directors branch, and Laura Dern, of the actors branch, are among the new members who have been elected to the Academy’s board of governors for the first time, the organization announced Monday.

As the Academy has undertaken initiatives to diversify its ranks, two new minority members have joined the board: African-Americans Sharen K. Davis, a two-time Oscar nominee for Ray and Dreamgirls, who was elected to rep the costume designers branch, and Roger Ross Williams, an Oscar winner for the short documentary Music by Prudence, who was elected to rep the documentary branch.

Other new, first-time board members include Laura Karpman, music, and Kevin Collier, sound.

The number of women on the board remains essentially the same, however. The outgoing board included 18 women. The newly elected board includes 17 women, although one more could be added depending on the outcome of the film editors branch election. The balloting in that contest resulted in a tie between Maryann Brandon and Mark Goldblatt, and a run-off election will be held that will begin July 25 and conclude July 28.

Several new women — Dern, Davis and Karpman — are joining the board, but several women who were on the old board will not be returning. Kathryn Bigelow chose not to run for re-election as the directors branch rep, and that seat will now be occupied by Spielberg. William F. Mechanic defeated incumbent Amy Pascal in the executive branch election, and Davis defeated incumbent Judianna Makovsky in the costume designers branch election.

Past board members who will be returning to the board after a hiatus include Mechanic, executives; Leonard Engelman, makeup artists and hairstylists; and Craig Barron, visual effects.

Several incumbent governors also were re-elected. They include David Rubin, casting directors; John Bailey, cinematographers; Jan Pascale, designers; Mark Johnson, producers; Nancy Utley, public relations; Jon Bloom, short films and feature animation; and Robin Swicord, writers.

This year, for the first time, the Academy opened up its nominating procedures for electing board members — essentially opening the process to anyone who wanted to throw their hat in the ring. But while a number of Academy members who have been critical of the current Academy stepped forward, most of them were eliminated in the first round of voting, which led to four candidates for each branch. Bruce Feldman, a publicist who has been vocal in questioning a number of the Academy's current moves, was a candidate for the publicists' branch seat, but he lost that election to Utley, the Fox Searchlight co-president, who is the branch's incumbent board member, 

Each of the Academy's 17 branches are represented by three governors, who may serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. 

The board of governors also includes three governors-at-large, appointed by the Academy president to ensure diversity. The current governors-at-large, appointed in January by president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, are Reginald Hudlin, Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Gregory Nava

The first order of business for the incoming board at its August meeting will be electing officers for the coming year. Boone Isaacs, who has served three consecutive one-year terms as president, is expected to seek re-election for a fourth term.

As a result of the elections, the Academy's 2016-2017 board of governors consists of:

Actors: Annette Bening, Laura Dern, Tom Hanks
Casting directors: Lora Kennedy, David Rubin, Bernard Telsey
Cinematographers: John Bailey, Caleb Deschanel, Daryn Okada
Costume designers: Sharen K. Davis, Jeffrey Kurland, Deborah Nadoolman Landis
Designers: JimBissell, Rick Carter, Jan Pascale
Directors: Michael Mann, Steven Spielberg, Edward Zwick
Documentary: Kate Amend, Rory Kennedy, Roger Ross Williams
Executives: Daniel R. Fellman, Jim Gianopulos, William H. Mechanic
Film editors: Carol Littleton, Michard Tronick, third seat to be determined
Makeup artists and hairstylists: Kathryn L. Blondell, Lois Burwell, Leonard Engelman
Music: Charles Bernstein, Michael Giacchino, Laura Karpman
Producers: Albert Berger, Mark Johnson, Kathleen Kennedy
Public relations: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Marvin Levy, Nancy Utley
Short films and feature animation: Jon Bloom, Bill Kroyer, Bob Rogers
Sound: Kevin Collier, Mark Mangini, Scott Millan
Visual effects: Craig Barron, John Knoll, Bill Taylor
Writers: Billy Ray, Phil Robinson, Robin Swicord
Governors-at-large: Reginald Hudlin, Gregory Nava, Jennifer Yuh Nelson