Film academy elects record numbers of women and people of color to board of governors

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HOLLYWOOD, CA – February 9, 2020: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson arriving at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Rita Wilson, photographed with husband Tom Hanks at the 92nd Academy Awards, joins the academy's board of governors. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the results of its latest round of elections for the organization's board of governors on Monday, boosting the share of women and people of color in the group’s leadership ranks to historic new levels.

Among the 12 newly elected governors, eight are women, including actress Rita Wilson (acting branch), MGM motion picture group president Pam Abdy (executives) and documentary editor and producer Jean Tsien (documentary).

Setting a new milestone in the academy’s ongoing efforts to boost inclusion, the elections increase the number of women on the organization’s 54-member board from 26 to 31, marking the first time in the group’s 94-year history that its board has been majority female. The number of governors from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities increases from 12 to 15.

Last June, the academy announced that it had surpassed the goal, set in early 2016 in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, of doubling the number of women and people from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities in the group’s membership ranks by 2020. To continue to address historic inequities, the group announced a new initiative, dubbed Academy Aperture 2025, aimed at further increasing representation in the organization’s governance, membership and workplace culture, as well as in the films nominated for Oscars.

With Wilson’s election, the acting branch, the largest by far of the academy’s 17 branches, is now represented entirely by women. Wilson replaces actor Alfred Molina and joins Whoopi Goldberg and Laura Dern on the board. (Wilson’s husband, Tom Hanks, formerly served as a governor representing the acting branch for a three-year term ending in 2018. Molina was elected as his successor.)

Other governors elected for the first time include Kim Taylor-Coleman (casting directors), Paul Cameron (cinematographers), Eduardo Castro (costume designers), Terilyn A. Shropshire (film editors), Laura C. Kim (marketing/public relations), Lesley Barber (music), Gary C. Bourgeois (sound), Brooke Breton (visual effects) and Howard A. Rodman (writers).

Incumbent governors reelected to the board include Susanne Bier (directors), Jennifer Todd (producers), Tom Duffield (production design) and Bonnie Arnold (short films and feature animation).

A number of long-serving governors are departing the board due to term limits, including one-time academy president Sid Ganis (marketing/public relations), Paramount head and former academy treasurer Jim Gianopulos (executives) and Oscar nominees Jeffrey Kurland (costume designers) and Carol Littleton (film editors).

The board of governors meets several times each year, directing the organization’s overall strategic vision. Its responsibilities include approving new members as well as overseeing Oscar eligibility rules, enforcing the group’s standards of conduct and planning for the long-delayed Academy Museum slated to open in September.

Each academy branch is represented by three governors, who may serve up to two three-year terms (consecutive or non-consecutive), followed by a two-year hiatus. After that, eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms, for a lifetime maximum of 12 years.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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