Academy hires executive to help with diversity and outreach initiatives
Nearly a year after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced an initiative to promote women and minorities among its ranks, the organization has hired an executive to spearhead diversity awareness in the film business.
The Academy on Tuesday announced the appointment of Edgar Aguirre, who later this month will become the group’s director of talent development and inclusion. It’s a newly created role that will involve communicating with the movie industry about “diversity awareness, inclusion and outreach efforts,” the Academy said in a news release.
The Academy posted the job listing in September, noting that the main requirement of the position would be to “drive awareness of inclusion and outreach to all areas of film entertainment in an effort to raise capital to fund key education initiatives.”
Aguirre comes to the 90-year-old organization from Southern California Public Radio, where he led a $6-million, three-year audience expansion plan to help connect the nonprofit with different cultures and initiatives in the area. Currently, he is also a member of the boards of the Latino Public Radio Consortium, the Los Angeles Urban Renewal Network and the Thelma Pearl Howard Foundation.
In July, the Academy invited 683 members to join the organization — 46% of them female and 41% people of color, making for the biggest and most diverse class ever. The move came after February’s Oscar telecast was overshadowed by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, which caused backlash in Hollywood and beyond. The show had its lowest ratings in eight years.
The producers of the 2017 ceremony, Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times last week that they want to celebrate diversity during this year’s event.
“You’re a little bit at the mercy of the nominations, but we’re approaching this with an absolute absence of cynicism,” said De Luca, a former studio executive who has produced movies such as “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Moneyball.”
“As much as the show gets criticism — sometimes warranted but most of the times not in my opinion — to me, it’s a completely uncynical enterprise,” De Luca said. “Obviously we’re there to celebrate the nominees and present them with awards, but in a way, what the Academy Awards represents is bigger than any one year and any one collection of nominated films and nominated people.”
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