Hollywood’s most prestigious organization is under new leadership.
Producer Janet Yang has been elected the 36th president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group’s board of directors announced Tuesday. Along with newly installed Chief Executive Bill Kramer, Yang is tasked with leading the 95-year-old institution in an increasingly difficult environment for the Oscars and the film business at large.
At a meeting Tuesday afternoon at the academy’s headquarters in Beverly Hills, the group’s 54-member board of directors, including industry giants Ava DuVernay, Jason Reitman and Whoopi Goldberg, chose Yang to succeed the group’s outgoing president, casting director David Rubin, who is stepping down Dismissed after three years at the helm due to term limits.
Yang brings a wealth of experience in the film industry and in the academy itself. Her female producers include The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt and the Oscar-nominated 2020 animated feature Over the Moon. Yang, who has been a member of the Academy’s Producers Division since 2002, was appointed Governor-at-Large of the Academy in 2019 and most recently served on the Board as Vice President and Membership Committee Chair. Yang is a key player in the academy’s efforts to promote inclusion and co-chairs the academy’s Asian Affinity Group.
“Janet is a tremendously dedicated and strategic leader who has an incredible track record at the academy,” Kramer said in a statement. “She has been instrumental in launching and promoting several academy initiatives on recruitment, governance, and equity, diversity and inclusion.”
At a time when the Academy faces challenges on numerous fronts — including waning public interest in the Academy Awards and seismic shifts in the film distribution landscape — the organization is in the midst of a change in leadership that the former director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Kramer, took over last month after stepping down from Dawn Hudson, who served as CEO for 11 transformative and often turbulent years. Yang is viewed by many in the group as a trusted, forward-thinking insider who is helping to steer an organization whose membership has grown over the past decade from 5,765 in 2012 to over 10,000 today.
For decades past, the unpaid role of academy president has been largely ceremonial, and has been filled over the years by figures such as Frank Capra, Bette Davis, and Gregory Peck, as well as lesser-renowned industry insiders. But in recent years, as the organization has expanded and redesigned itself inside and out, the job has become more demanding — and the public spotlight has become more intense.
Under Rubin’s leadership, the group faced a series of internal controversies and public relations crises, even as the Academy continued efforts to diversify its membership ranks and celebrate the long-awaited opening of the Academy Museum.
Heading into this year’s Oscars, the academy was rocked by weeks of controversy over its plan to remove eight under-the-line and short film categories from the live televised ceremony. In an open letter, more than 70 prominent film professionals – including Oscar winners James Cameron, Kathleen Kennedy, John Williams and Guillermo del Toro – have blasted the rating gambit, saying it would relegate some nominees to “second-class citizen status.” do “irreparable damage” to the Oscars’ reputation.
The decision to create a “Fan Favorite” award, voted on via Twitter to further boost audience engagement with the Oscars, drew additional criticism.
Adding to the academy’s concerns, the March ceremony went haywire when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage for a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. After the shocking incident, Hudson and Rubin admitted in a letter to members that they “didn’t speak to him appropriately” at the moment.
How Yang, along with Kramer and the rest of the group leaders, will address the significant challenges the group faces going forward remains to be seen. But speaking to The Times last month as his tenure was coming to an end, Rubin suggested that anyone trying to lead a rigorously scrutinized and sometimes unruly group like the Academy must have a thick skin.
“For an organization that was founded in the 1920s, change can be painful,” Rubin said. “The bright limelight is inevitable. And it’s incredibly entertaining for the press to write about. … But I’m so excited to both see the continuation of initiatives already started and to see what ideas come with the new leadership.”
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-08-02/producer-janet-yang-elected-president-of-the-film-academy Producer Janet Yang elected president of the film academy