Janet Yang, the film producer who a year ago was elected the 36th president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was re-elected to that post on Tuesday during the first meeting of the Academy’s recently reconstituted board of governors, the Academy has announced.
Yang, 67, the Queens-born daughter of Chinese immigrants, broke into showbiz by connecting key players in the Chinese and Hollywood film industries to make possible films like Empire of the Sun before becoming a producer of films including The Joy Luck Club and The People vs. Larry Flynt. She is just the fourth female (after Bette Davis, Fay Kanin and Cheryl Boone Isaacs) and second person of color (after Boone Isaacs) ever tapped for the board’s top job.
A member of the producers branch since 2002, she has served on the board since 2019 as a governor-at-large. Three seats for governors-at-large were added to the board in the aftermath of the #OscarsSoWhite scandal, intended for non-white and/or non-male individuals who would be tasked with advocating for inclusion in the board’s activities. They are the only governors who are not elected by the members of their branch, but are instead appointed by the president and approved by the board. And Yang is the first governor-at-large to ascend to the presidency.
Known in Hollywood as “the godmother of Asian-Americans in the industry,” Yang, who earned a B.A. from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University, has long devoted much of her extracurricular time to helping Asians and Asian-Americans break into and advance in the business. She became particularly active in the Academy after Chris Rock made Asian children the butt of a joke on the 2016 Oscars telecast, bringing together Academy members of Asian descent to lean on the organization’s leadership to do better. Yang now chairs the board’s Asian and Asian-American Affinity Group.
Earlier this year, Yang candidly discussed her life and career on an episode of THR’s Awards Chatter podcast.
Also elected on Tuesday to serve as officers of the board: Bonnie Arnold, vice president (chair, membership committee), Howard Berger, vice president (chair, museum committee), Brooke Breton, vice president (chair, education and outreach committee), Tom Duffield, vice president/Treasurer (chair, finance committee), DeVon Franklin, vice president (chair, equity and inclusion committee), Lynette Howell Taylor, vice president (chair, awards committee), Howard A. Rodman, vice president/Secretary (chair, governance committee) and Kim Taylor-Coleman, vice president (chair, history and preservation committee).
Howell Taylor and Taylor-Coleman also served as board officers over the past year, Howell Taylor as vice president (chair, awards committee) and Taylor-Coleman as vice president (chair, equity and inclusion committee). This will be the first officer stint for Berger, Breton, Duffield and Rodman. Arnold previously served as an officer from 2019-20 and Franklin from 2021-22.
Academy CEO Bill Kramer said in a statement, “I am thrilled to welcome this year’s board officers. Under Janet’s esteemed leadership, these dedicated governors will guide the Academy’s ongoing efforts to elevate the work of our global membership and film community, highlight our industry’s rich history, foster meaningful dialogue, and continue to build equity and inclusion in every aspect of our organization.”
Academy board members may serve up to two three-year terms (consecutive or non-consecutive), followed by a two-year hiatus, after which eligibility renews for up to two additional three-year terms for a lifetime maximum of 12 years. Officers serve one-year terms, with a maximum of four consecutive years in any one office.