Actress Marlee Matlin, director Jason Reitman and producer Jason Blum are among the 12 film professionals who have been elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors for the first time, the Academy announced on Wednesday.
Where Academy elections have typically found incumbents winning in nearly all branches, this year’s was a step in a dramatic remaking of the board that will take place over a few years.
While all four of the incumbents who ran for re-election did win, stricter terms limits meant that existing governors could not run again in 11 of the 17 races, and the incumbents chose not to run in an additional two races.
The change was set in motion by new, stricter limits on that were put in place in 2020. Previously, they had to leave the board after serving three consecutive three-year terms, but could return after spending a year away. Under the new rule, a board member can only serve two consecutive three-year terms and must then spend two years off the board, with a lifetime maximum of 12 years.
The new rules prevented a number of incumbents from running last year, leading to 12 new governors elected for the first time in 2021. With additional six first-time governors elected in 2020, the new board will include 30 members who hadn’t been governors prior to 2020, more than 55% of its total membership.
The 29 female governors will drop from the record 31 women on the current board, but the governors will still be 54% women and 28% from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.
Incumbent governors who were ineligible to run again included Academy President David Rubin (Casting Directors Branch), Laura Dern (Actors Branch), Steven Spielberg (Directors Branch), Roger Ross Williams (Documentary Branch), Nancy Utley (Marketing and Public Relations Branch), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Short Films and Feature Animation Branch) and Mark Johnson (Producers Branch). Another two governors – cinematographer Ellen Kuras and film editor Dody Dorn – chose not to run for re-election.
The four incumbents who did run, all of whom won, were costume designer Ruth E. Carter, executive Donna Gigliotti, makeup artist Howard Berger and writer Eric Roth.
In addition, the Music Branch elected composer Charles Fox, who returns to the board after a hiatus.
Other new governors who were elected include Richard Hicks, Casting Directors Branch; Dion Beebe, Cinematographers Branch; Chris Hegedus, Directors Branch; Nancy Richardson, Film Editors Branch; Megan Colligan, Marketing and Public Relations Branch; Missy Parker, Production Design Branch; Marlon West, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch; Peter Devlin, Sound Branch; and Paul Debevec, Visual Effects Branch.
The result brings a larger-than-usual amount of fresh blood to the board, but it takes away some of its highest profile members (Spielberg, Dern, Rubin) and its longest-serving governors (Johnson, Barron).
The AMPAS Board of Governors consists of three representatives from each of the Academy’s 17 branches, with each governor serving staggered three-year terms so that one seat is up for election every year. In addition, three at-large governors are appointed by the Academy president in an attempt to insure a diverse board. The 54 members make the Academy board one of the largest – and, many say, most unwieldly – boards of its kind.
With current president David Rubin leaving the board because of term limits, the first order of business for the new board will be choosing the next Academy president. Very few of the current board members have ever been mentioned as potential presidential candidates or aspirants, and an additional 10 of them, including Whoopi Goldberg and Larry Karaszewski, will lose their seats to term limits next year, which would make them one-term presidents.
The outgoing board, though, made two recent moves that could have been handed off to the new board. It selected Academy Museum Director and President Bill Kramer as the Academy’s new CEO, a hire that could have waited for the incoming board since current CEO Dawn Hudson’s existing contract does not expire until May 2023. And it chose this year’s honorary Oscar recipients, a job that usually falls to the new board in one of its first meetings.
Elected to the Board for the first time:
Marlee Matlin, Actors Branch
Richard Hicks, Casting Directors Branch
Dion Beebe, Cinematographers Branch
Jason Reitman, Directors Branch
Chris Hegedus, Documentary Branch
Nancy Richardson, Film Editors Branch
Megan Colligan, Marketing and Public Relations Branch
Jason Blum, Producers Branch
Missy Parker, Production Design Branch
Marlon West, Short Films and Feature Animation Branch
Peter Devlin, Sound Branch
Paul Debevec, Visual Effects Branch
Incumbent governors reelected to the Board:
Ruth E. Carter, Costume Designers Branch
Donna Gigliotti, Executives Branch
Howard Berger, Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch
Eric Roth, Writers Branch
Returning to the Board after a hiatus:
Charles Fox, Music Branch