New Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs: “We Are Moving Forward And Evolving” – First Interview
Academy Blurs The ‘Line’ In This Week’s Historic Election Of Cheryl Boone Isaacs
In the end it probably was not too surprising that Cheryl Boone Isaacs was elected President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at last night’s Board of Governors meeting. As I pointed out in my election preview last week, she is the only one in Academy history to have served in every elected office the Academy has – VP, Treasurer, Secretary, Academy Foundation President, First Vice President most recently, and even produced last year’s Governors Awards. That the Board essentially elevated her up one notch to President after her 21 years of service seems a natural. Then again it doesn’t always go down the “natural” way in show business.
But of course her election is historic for another reason. She becomes only the third woman (after Fay Kanin and a combative two-week stint in 1941 for Bette Davis) and first African-American to become Academy President. Much is being made in the media of the latter distinction, but Boone Isaacs just shrugs it off. With Dawn Hudson as CEO and now Boone Isaacs as President, plus a record 14 women on the Board Of Governors and a meaningful drive toward diversity in the overall membership, it is going to be harder than ever for critics to haul out the usual ‘It’s just an old white man’s club’ description when talking about this new age Academy, even though it is a long way from completely changing its image. But I think more than anything Boone Isaac’s election is a vote for stability in an organization trying to come to grips with a changing business and world. She’s a familiar face, and well-liked within the Academy and that goes a long way in this prestigious position she has now inherited from outgoing one-term President Hawk Koch. When I spoke to Boone Isaacs this morning she was basking in the glory of her election, but definitely looking to the future.
DEADLINE: What was it like when you learned you had been elected?
CHERYL BOONE ISAACS: It was very exciting and a little bit of an out-of-body experience. I wished I had a camera to watch myself. I am so honored. You know I have been part of this organization for such a long time and I have great respect for it. I am beyond thrilled and just grateful that I am going to be part of it even in a bigger way than I have been through the years. There will always be new challenges but I do have an understanding of this organization and its tradition and certainly with that tradition of moving the organization into the future.
DEADLINE: The Academy has been moving at a faster pace recently than in the past. Is continuing that part of your agenda?
CBI: Certainly I will be involved in the movement forward. It’s only been 12 hours so far for me to really get immersed. It’s like everything. We evolve and keep moving forward. Member engagement is at the forefront of our agenda, and the museum. And of course the next generation of filmmakers. All of those things propel this organization forward.
DEADLINE: How important is the museum for the Academy in your view?
CBI: It’s very important. We really need to have a world famous museum. I don’t think anybody can think of a better organization to be at the forefront of building, producing and opening a museum. It’s perfect for the Academy and I have been involved obviously but now even more. It’s a great thing. It’s great for our industry, our city, the state, the country and for the world. I think we all believe it will be a tremendous hit right off the bat. We have a great story to tell, in fact many stories to tell as it relates to our members and the branches and the skill and the expertise that it takes to mount a motion picture. It is a part of our legacy and the motion picture business, and its impact on culture around the world.