The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been the subject of scrutiny for the lack of inclusion surrounding the Oscar nominations, despite the fact that people of color have created works of art worthy of recognition. However, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a symbol of Black History in the form of its most recent past president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Her final tenure as the Academy president, Isaac’s legacy run coincided with the #OscarsSoWhite movement that has surrounded the Academy Awards in recent years. In the midst of the #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy extended voting membership to an inclusive collective of actors, actresses and directors.
Isaacs, who was first named president of the Academy in 2013, began her Hollywood career in film publicity in 1977 at Columbia Pictures, lending her talents for promotion on the Steven Spielberg classic Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.
While accepting the Pioneer Of The Year Award at CinemaCon in 2017, Isaac’s stated her goal as president of the Academy.
“As Academy president, I wanted to make sure our entire industry saw the value in diversity and inclusion,” Isaacs said in her speech. “Yes, it’s a personal thing to me as a woman and a woman of color. But it should be personal to everyone.”
She was succeeded as president by John Bailey in 2017. Issacs’ work will forever have a lasting impact on Black Cinema.