Janet Yang makes history as first Asian American president of Oscars body

She is only the fourth woman to lead the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Yang is set to succeed David Rubin, the veteran casting director, who is stepping down after three years due to term limits. AFP
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Janet Yang has been elected as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making her the first Asian American to lead the body.

Yang, 66, the producer of The Joy Luck Club and The People vs. Larry Flynt, becomes the fourth woman to lead the organisation behind the Oscars.

The group’s board of governors announced on Tuesday how she had been elected by the academy’s 54-member board. She succeeds David Rubin, the veteran casting director, who is stepping down after three years due to term limits.

Along with academy chief executive Bill Kramer, the former Academy Museum director who was named to the post in June, Yang will be tasked with guiding the body through an evolving film industry and with stabilising the Academy Awards, which in have been beset by scandal and declining ratings in recent years.

Yang, a daughter of Chinese immigrants who was born in New York, has long been a significant 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 following the #OscarsSoWhite scandal to help boost inclusion in the film academy.

Yang, an executive producer of the 2020 Oscar-nominated animated film Over the Moon, is just the second person from an ethnic minority to be the academy’s president, following Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She also co-chairs the academy’s Asian Affinity Group.

“Janet is a tremendously dedicated and strategic leader who has an incredible record of service at the academy,” Kramer said. “She has been instrumental in launching and elevating several academy initiatives on membership recruitment, governance, and equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

After several years of declining ratings, the Oscars broadcast in March drew a larger audience than last year's, but its 16.6 million viewers was still the second-smallest on record.

The evening was marred by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage. Smith has since resigned his academy membership and was banned from attending any academy event for the next decade.

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Updated: August 04, 2022, 6:10 AM