Cheryl Boone Isaacs elected to head film academy

Veteran Hollywood marketer Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been elected the first African American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that hands out the film industry's Oscars each year.

Isaacs, a longtime academy insider who most recently held the job of first vice president, will serve a one-year term with eligibility to stay in the role for three additional years.


She was elected Tuesday evening by the academy's 48-member board of governors over Rob Friedman, a board member and Lionsgate motion picture group co-chair.

Isaacs, a marketing and publicity consultant who previously worked at New Line Cinema and Paramount Pictures, has served in every office within the organization except president.

"I'm truly looking forward to going to the academy and seeing that beautiful face in a frame on the wall as president next to all those other presidents," said Tom Sherak, a former academy president. "I think it's wonderful. She's a person who has paid her dues for the academy. She is smart, she is effective, and she cares. She knows all the ins and outs of the academy. She doesn't have to start at the beginning. She will bring an excitement and an energy to the organization."

The election of Isaacs comes at a time when the academy is interested in addressing diversity. A 2012 Los Angeles Times survey found that the organization's membership of about 5,800 was overwhelmingly white, male and older.

Though outgoing President Hawk Koch and academy Chief Executive Dawn Hudson have made strides to increase the diversity within the organization — eliminating the quota system for electing members, bringing in additional women to the board — the group is still predominantly male and white.

Last month the academy extended invitations to 276 people to join its ranks, many of them women and minorities, including actress Jennifer Lopez, director Catherine Hardwicke, actor Danny Trejo and newly appointed Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara.

The addition of Isaacs to the top post means the academy will now be run by two women, including Hudson. Those close to Isaacs expect her to treat the unpaid job as a full-time position.

Isaacs will be leading the organization at a time of great change. As the academy gets closer to starting construction on its $300-million museum, she will oversee the hiring of the curatorial and managerial staff. She will also be in charge when the contracts of Hudson and Chief Operating Officer Ric Robertson come up for renewal next year.

Though Koch already has chosen Craig Zadan and Neil Meron as producers of the 2014 Oscars telecast, Isaacs will work with the producers to choose a host.

Other academy officers elected Tuesday were John Lasseter as first vice president, Jeffrey Kurland and Leonard Engelman as vice presidents, Dick Cook as treasurer and Phil Robinson as secretary.