By JAKE COYLE
AP Cinema Screenwriter
NEW YORK (AP) — Producer Janet Yang has been elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group’s board of directors announced Tuesday, making her the first Asian American to direct the film academy.
Yang, the 66-year-old producer of “The Joy Luck Club” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” becomes the fourth woman to lead the organization behind the Oscars. Elected by the academy’s 54-member board, Yang succeeds outgoing president David Rubin, the veteran casting director, who is stepping down after three years due to term limits.
Along with academy general manager Bill Kramer, the former director of the academy museum who was appointed to the role in June, Yang will be responsible for leading the academy through the continued evolution of the film industry and to stabilize the Oscars, which in recent years have been plagued by scandal and declining ratings.
Born in Queens, Yang, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, has long been a prominent figure in Hollywood’s Asian American community. She has served on the academy’s board of governors since 2019 as one of three governors-at-large who were added in the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite scandal to help bolster inclusion at the film academy.
Yang, executive producer of the 2020 Oscar-nominated animated film “Over the Moon,” is only the second person of color to serve as president of the academy, after Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She also co-chairs the academy’s Asian affinity group.
“Janet is an extremely dedicated and strategic leader who has an incredible record of service to the academy,” Kramer said in a statement. “She has been instrumental in initiating and elevating several academy initiatives on membership recruitment, governance, equity, diversity and inclusion.”
After several years of declining ratings, March’s Oscars show drew larger audiences than the 2021 show, but its 16.6 million viewers were still the second-smallest on record. The telecast, of course, was marred by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage. Smith has since resigned his academy membership and was banned from attending any academy events for the next decade.