HOLLYWOOD — Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first black president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, has decided to leave the Academy board and not seek re-election when her board term ends later this year.
Boone Isaacs has been a member of the Academy’s Board of Governors for the better part of the last quarter-century. She has been Academy president for the last four years, the third woman and first black to hold the job.
On May 12, the Hollywood Reporter broke the story. According to the magazine, sources from the Academy she is looking forward to some time off after a taxing four years as president.
In a statement, Boone Isaacs said, “It’s been my greatest honor serving on the Academy’s Board of Governors in numerous capacities for more than two decades, and it will be a privilege to provide the opportunity for new voices to have a seat at the table.”
Boone Isaacs has dealt with her share of controversies the last two years as head of the Academy.
In 2016, the Academy came under scrutiny after only white actors were nominated in the acting categories for the second year in a row.
This year’s Oscars ceremony was much more successful in their diversity efforts, even though the wrong winner, “La La Land,” was announced for the Best Picture category when in fact “Moonlight” won.
Najee Ali, political director of the National Action Network of Los Angeles, released a statement praising Boone Isaacs’ hard work.
“To Boone-Isaacs credit, every demand that NAN L.A. called for to have more inclusion with people of color, younger Academy voters and more women was agreed to and carried out by Boone-Isaacs, who made swift and dramatic changes to Academy voting members,” Ali said.
“The record number of African-American talent nominated and winning Oscars this year is a testament to her legacy of change and diversity by having more diversity in Academy voting members.”
Gil Robertson, head of the African American Film Critics Association, said Boone Isaacs had been a great president of the Academy and a wonderful leader.
“She brought tremendous value to the organization that we will see for many, many years to come,” Robertson said. “She’s been a champion for diversity her entire career.”
Robertson isn’t worried things will go back to how they use to be after Boone-Isaacs leaves.
“I’m confident that [the Academy] will continue the good work, and continue to set an example of leadership that the industry can follow.”
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, president of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, helped lead a boycott against the Oscars two years ago over the diversity issue. Hutchinson and other civil rights leaders challenged Boone Isaacs for the horrible record of the motion picture industry on opportunities for minorities and women.
“Hollywood still has a long to go to ensure that minorities and women are represented up and down the motion picture food chain,” Hutchinson said. “But Boone Isaacs got the ball rolling in that direction from the inside, and she deserves accolades for that.”
The Hollywood Reporter said many big names are contenders to succeed Boone Isaacs as president of the Academy. They include Netflix chief Ted Sarandos, Sony Classics co-chief Michael Barker, CBS Films President Terry Press, and African-American actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifah.
More than 150 Academy members have thrown their hat into the ring for this year’s board race. By June, the ballot will have been narrowed down to no more than four candidates from each of the organization’s 17 branches.
Each branch will pick a single representative in June, according to the Hollywood Reporter.