Academy Appoints 3 New Governors in Bid to Boost Diversity After Oscars Backlash

The lack of diversity among this year's nominees sparked outrage among many viewers as well as celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith, who vowed to boycott the ceremony.

By Corinne Heller Mar 16, 2016 3:29 PMTags
Reginald Hudlin, Gregory Nava, Jennifer Yuh NelsonGetty Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has taken a promised major step to boost the diversity of its members, following a backlash over its nominations of solely white actors for Oscars this year.

The group's president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, announced in a statement Tuesday appointments of three new governors to the Academy's 51-seat board—Reginald Hudlin (Directors Branch), Gregory Nava (Writers Branch) and Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Short Films and Feature Animation Branch). They will serve three-year terms, effective immediately.

"I'm proud of the steps we have taken to increase diversity," Boone Isaacs said. "However, we know there is more to do as we move forward to make this a more inclusive organization."

Boone Isaacs also said Wednesday that seven members have been appointed to six Board committees—Gael García Bernal, who joins the Awards and Events Committee, cinematographer Amy Vincent, who joins the Preservation and History Committee, producer Effie Brown, who joins the Museum Committee, executive Marcus Hu and animator Floyd Norman, who join the Education and Outreach Committee, executive Vanessa Morrison, who joins the Finance Committee, and producer Stephanie Allain, who joins the Membership and Administration Committee.

This year marked the second year in a row only white actors were nominated for Oscars. The lack of diversity sparked outrage among many viewers as well as celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith, who vowed to boycott the ceremony.

Boone Isaacs had said in January, a week after the 2016 nominations were announced, that the Academy has vowed to "establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board" in order to "immediately increase diversity on the Board of Governors." She also said the group plans to double "the number of women and diverse members of the Academy by 2020."

Oscars 2016 host Chris Rock, who had jokingly called the event the "White BET Awards," poked fun at Jada and husband Will Smith in his show monologue. He had also made several racially charged jokes during the ceremony.

One of them, which involved three Asian children, did not sit well with 25 members of the Academy of Asian descent, including Star Trek actor George Takei. They expressed their anger in a letter to the group's board of governors.

"The Academy appreciates the concerns stated, and regrets that any aspect of the Oscar telecast was offensive," a spokesperson had told E! News. "We are committed to doing our best to ensure that material in future shows be more culturally sensitive."