According to Variety.com, Cheryl Boone Isaacs has become the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences first African-American president. After a lengthy career behind the scenes, the Academy Board of Governors chose Isaacs, who served as first vice president of the Academy board. Isaacs, who has held every other Academy board officer position and also produced last year’s Governor’s Awards, also becomes the first female Academy president since Fay Kanin in 1979-83 and third overall, counting the two-month tenure of Bette Davis in 1941.
Rob Friedman, the co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group and most recently treasurer of the board, was perceived as the other top candidate for the post. Voting totals are not released by the Academy. Academy board members serve three-year terms, while officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive terms in any one office, including president.
The president role was once a ceremonial title. But in recent years the role has taken on greater responsibility, as each worked with the Academy’s salaried staff, including CEO Dawn Hudson and Ric Robertson to further diversity initiatives, while also trying to move the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, scheduled to open in 2017, closer to reality. They also dealt with questions of electronic voting, changes in Oscar rules (such as more than five best-picture contenders) and a restructuring of the staff.
article by Jon Weisman with additional reporting by Lori Lakin Hutcherson