Academy’s new board of governors reflects slowly changing demographics

A group of Oscar statuettes.

A group of Oscar statuettes.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its newly elected board of governors Friday, a group that reflects the slowly changing demographics of the organization.

The board of governors will play an especially important strategic and financial role this year as the academy breaks ground on its new museum, planned for opening in 2017.

The 51-member board is now one-third women after adding three, newcomers Rory Kennedy (documentary branch) and Lois Burwell (makeup and hairstyling), as well as Carol Littleton, who returns to a seat she held previously representing the editing branch.


Minorities running for board seats did not fare as well -- only one, Asian American cinematographer Daryn Okada joins the new board. He and academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, an African American woman, are the only people of color represented in the group.

In June the academy invited an unusually large and demographically broad group of 322 new members to join the organization. The diversity push follows a period in which the academy has come under fire for the racial uniformity of its tastes, as well as its membership, when all 20 of the group’s nominees for the acting Oscar in January were white.

Some races in the board of governors election, however, seemed to reflect a desire to maintain a status quo in the organization. Michael Mann was reelected to represent the directors branch, a closely watched race that had three female candidates, including Ava Duvernay, an African American woman who directed “Selma”; Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy was reelected to represent the producers branch over African American producer Stephanie Allain; and Tom Hanks was reelected to represent the actors branch over Mexican American actor Edward James Olmos.

Each of the 17 branches of the academy’s board is represented by three governors, who are elected by the branch’s members. One of the three seats comes up for election each year.

A runoff election is required for the writers branch, which produced a tie between candidates Larry Karaszewski and Billy Ray. Voting for the runoff election via online and paper ballots will begin Thursday, July 16, and end Wednesday, July 22.

Michael Giacchino joins the board for the first time to represent the music branch. Incumbent governors reelected to the board include Jim Bissell (designers); Tom Hanks (actors); Kathleen Kennedy (producers); John Knoll (visual effects); Bill Kroyer (short films and feature animation); Scott Millan (sound); Deborah Nadoolman Landis (costume designers); and Bernard Telsey (casting directors).

In addition to Littleton, returning to the board after a hiatus are Jim Gianopulos (executives) and Marvin Levy (public relations).