Dawn Hudson, the longtime CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will not seek an additional term when her current contract ends in May 2023, the Academy announced on Monday.
Hudson took the position in the summer of 2011, after the retirement of Bruce Davis, the Academy’s longtime executive director. The CEO position was created after Davis left, making Hudson the only person ever to have served in that post.
She will be actively involved in the search for a successor.
Hudson has been in office during a stormy and transformational period for the Academy that included the slumping ratings for the Oscar show; the #OscarsSoWhite protests; the Academy’s subsequent move to dramatically increase the size and diversity of its membership; the hugely expensive Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opened in September after years of delays; and the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the Academy to change Oscar qualifying rules, screening practices and the show itself.
The Academy membership is now about 40% larger than it was when Hudson joined, with more than double the number of women and people of color and a huge increase in the number of members based outside the United States. The corporate structure has been changed, with a significant turnover of executives, and the Board of Governors has been expanded by more than 10 to its current 54 members.
In a statement announcing her decision, Hudson said, “After more than 10 years and the incredibly successful opening of our new museum, I’ve decided, when this term concludes, it will be time for me to explore other opportunities and adventures as this can hardly be topped. We’ve achieved so much together that’s been most important to me — our ongoing commitment to representation and inclusion; adapting the Academy into a digitally sophisticated global institution; and creating the world’s premier movie museum that will be the destination of film fans for decades. The Board of Governors and I are mutually committed to a seamless transition to new leadership. I’m excited for what the future holds, for both the Academy and for me.”
Also in the statement, Academy President David Rubin added, “Dawn has been, and continues to be, a groundbreaking leader for the Academy. Advancements in the diversity and gender parity of our membership, our increased international presence, and the successful opening of a world-class Academy Museum — a project she revived, guided and championed — are already part of her legacy. I know the Board of Governors joins me in looking forward to our collaboration with Dawn in the many months ahead, as we map out a plan for succession.”
Hudson was at times a divisive figure within the Academy, with a faction on the board opposed to continued spending on the museum. When he resigned from the board in 2018, producer Bill Mechanic said the results of the creation of the CEO position were “erratic at best” and pointedly suggested that the organization “change the leadership of the Academy.” But another faction, reportedly led by Laura Dern, pushed to allow Hudson to remain in office, leading to the three-year contract extension she signed in 2020.
Prior to moving to the Academy, Hudson had served as executive director of Film Independent, the nonprofit organization which produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival.