Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, announced a new initiative called The Academy Talent Development and Inclusion Program, as she welcomed guests to the eighth annual Governors Awards tonight, held at Hollywood & Highland's Ray Dolby Ballroom.
Boone Isaacs has made encouraging diversity among filmmakers a hallmark of her tenure as Academy president and reiterated that goal, saying that inclusion "is a strategic imperative for our industry."
She said that despite how some of the Academy's efforts have been characterized in the press, it's about "names, not just numbers," and, she continued, "it's about change from top to bottom."
To that end, she said the Academy had brought together other members of the industry from studios and unions to create the new talent development program.
The program, set to launch in spring 2017, is described as a "multi-tiered educational and experiential initiative" designed to offer interns access to Academy members, industry professionals and education. According to a statement from the Academy, "this initiative will ultimately cement, strengthen and clarify long-standing, but independent efforts to address concerns of accessibility and opportunity for under-represented communities throughout our country."
While she didn't set a timetable for the Academy's goal, she said "we're not to the mountain top yet, but we can see the peak up ahead."
In her introductory remarks, the Academy president also alluded to the recent presidential election by saying of the movies, "in uncertain times, they can connect us, change us and unify us."
The evening's honorees, all of whom are receiving honorary Oscars, include actor Jackie Chan, film editor Anne V. Coates, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman.
More to come.