Despite many rumors suggesting the next president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could be Rory Kennedy, David Rubin or Laura Dern, in a surprising turn of events, cinematographer John Bailey will take charge for now, per the L.A. Times. Bailey will take over a position that was held most recently by President Cheryl Boone Isaacs who has served four consecutive, one-year stints at the helm. Bailey was elected by the Academy’s 54-person board, which includes Hollywood heavyweights such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Whoopi Goldberg.
While the Academy president in the past has been a largely ceremonial role, it has taken on increased importance in the past few years. Isaacs was forced to navigate the recent #OscarsSoWhite controversies, and she successfully strove to ensure greater diversity during the Academy Awards voting process. According to the Times:
In the last two years, the academy has opened its doors to the largest and most diverse classes of new members in its history. In June, a whopping 774 industry professionals were invited to join the organization, 39% of whom were female and 30% of whom were people of color, bringing the overall share of women and minorities among the more than 7,000 members to 28% and 13%, respectively. (In a landmark 2012 analysis, The Times reported that Oscar voters at the time were 23% female and 6% nonwhite.)
Bailey will be expected to continue these efforts and strive to ensure that the Academy becomes less and less exclusive and more diverse. Isaacs believes the transition will be a successful one, stating, “This organization was great before I took this position and it’ll be great after I leave. It’s just an evolution of change, and this is an exciting time.”