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Oscars get their first Asian-American president

August 3, 2022

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts, known for the Oscars, has for the first time elected an Asian-American woman as its president.

Janet Yang
New AMPAS President Janet YangImage: picture alliance / Billy Bennight/AdMedia

Producer Janet Yang has been elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the organization's board of governors announced Tuesday. Yang is the first Asian-American to lead the group that awards the film industry's prestigious Oscar awards.

The 66-year-old producer of movies, including the 2020 Oscar-nominated animated feature "Over the Moon," the 1993 drama film "The Joy Luck Club'' and in 1996, "The People vs. Larry Flynt," is the fourth woman to head the organization. Yang was elected by the board on Tuesday and succeeds outgoing president and veteran casting director David Rubin, who is stepping down after three years due to term limits.

"Janet is a tremendously dedicated and strategic leader who has an incredible record of service at the Academy," AMPAS CEO Bill Kramer said in a statement, adding the producer was instrumental in "launching and elevating several Academy initiatives on membership recruitment, governance, and equity, diversity, and inclusion."

'Inspire the next generations of filmmakers'

"I am thrilled that she is taking on the esteemed role of Academy President and look forward to working closely with her on our shared vision to serve our membership, celebrate the collaborative arts and sciences of motion pictures, and inspire the next generation of filmmakers," Kramer wrote.

Janet Yang, actor Samuel L. Jackson and the previous Academy president,  David Rubin
Janet Yang, actor Samuel L. Jackson and the previous Academy president, David Rubin, at an awards ceremony in MarchImage: AMPAS/Zuma/picture alliance

Following Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Yang is the second person of color to hold the academy's top job.

The New York City-born daughter of Chinese immigrants has long been a significant figure in Hollywood's Asian American community. She co-chairs the academy's Asian Affinity Group and has served on the academy's board of governors since 2019 as one of three governors-at-large who were added following the #OscarsSoWhite movement to help boost diversity and inclusion .

The hashtag highlights protests about long-standing racism and bias in awards recognition in Hollywood. The Academy has meanwhile fulfilled its pledge to double the number of women and minority members, increasing its overall membership from 6,000 to around 10,000.

db/mg (ap, afp)