A Open Letter to Cheryl Boone Isaacs: Remember the Ladies

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by Melissa Silverstein
August 1, 2013 3:00 PM
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Cheryl Boone Isaacs

Yesterday marked the first day of Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs' tenure and she made the press rounds to talk about her priorities and goals for her new job.  As we know, she is the first woman to hold this job since 1983 when Fay Kanin departed, and the first to hold the job at the same time as a female CEO -- Dawn Hudson -- is running the day to day operations.  

Over the last year the last six months it seems that the Academy is making strides towards diversity with a big new class of members invited to join several months ago.  

But their track record is not great.  We all remember how dreadful the last Academy Awards show was, so it is important for Ms. Boone Isaacs to be reminded of the words of Abigail Adams -- "remember the ladies" as she begins her tenure.

Even though the Academy is still majority old and white and male there is reason to be hopeful especially based on some of the remarks that Ms. Boone Isaacs said yesterday.  In addressing the issues with the Academy Awards show -- even though it has the same producers -- she said to the NY Times: "Right off the bat, it will not be the same show."

And she seems to be embracing the significance of her election as the first African American woman saying to Variety:

It's a new day, isn't it?  It's a big day, and it's significant in many, many ways - inspirational I hope for the current generation and the next generation with the proliferation of film schools and young of all (ethnicities) wishing to have a career in this business. I'm hoping it will be inspirational for them.

She also knows that things need to be done to improve the status of women and people of color:

I think the industry has been moving forward in this area. We could quicken the step a bit with hiring and more importantly, the promotion of quality women and minorities into positions of power. There's always room for improvement in those areas.

Her immediate priorities are the Oscars, Academy member engagement and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

On first blush she comes off as a serious and thoughtful woman who seems to have gotten right away what it means that she was elected.  Hopefully, women will have someone who gets their issues, and now that she's the boss I am optimistic about who will be picked to host the show.  

What I love about her already is that she gets that the Academy needs to open up, and she is the perfect role model and example to show us that success does not look the same as it looked 10 or even 5 years ago.  She shows all of us that success in Hollywood doesn't need to come in a white man's body.

There is clearly a new sheriff in town.  

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