Feb. 21 - Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the first African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its third woman in its 86 years. Roselle Chen reports.
When Cheryl Boone Isaacs presides over the Oscars on March 2, her mere presence will convey a statement on diversity in Hollywood as the first African-American president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and its third female leader in its 86 years. But as the head of a body that takes knocks every year at Oscar voting time for a 6,000-plus membership that is overwhelmingly white, mostly male and older, Boone Isaacs offers no quick fixes for diversifying the academy or the industry. SOUNDBITE: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, A.M.P.A.S. president, saying (English): "Certainly, physically, I am an African-American woman, so if you look at me it is not like you are seeing something else. It is what it is." She put in 21 years on the academy's Board of Governors, held every office, and worked three decades in film marketing before she was elected president last summer. Although she takes a cautious line when talking about diversity, she doesn't hold back on what that particular milestone would mean to the industry. SOUNDBITE: Cheryl Boone Isaacs, A.M.P.A.S. president, saying (English): "That means a major door will have been kicked down and we're going to see a lot more diversity." There is the possibility that one historic racial barrier might be broken on her watch on Oscars night. If "12 Years a Slave," the slavery drama from British director Steve McQueen, wins Best Picture, it would be the first time that a black director's film has taken the top Oscar.