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As the Academy Confronts Diversity Challenges, CEO Bill Kramer Adds New Impact and Inclusion Officer

Jeanell English will implement Aperture 2025, which uses Oscar eligibility as a wedge to push Hollywood to follow the Academy's inclusion standards.

Jeanell English

Jeanell English

Richard Harbaugh

Bill Kramer, the new CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, continues to plow forward. One of the challenges facing the Academy is how it executes an ambitious slate of sustainability, representation, inclusion, and accessibility efforts. To spearhead these programs, Kramer has promoted Jeanell English to Executive Vice President, Impact and Inclusion, reporting directly to him.

English will be responsible for the ongoing implementation of the Academy’s representation and inclusion standards, and in this new position, will “lead the Academy’s initiatives designed to address underrepresentation across the industry and to discover, empower, and advance the work of emerging and diverse film artists,” the Academy announced.

Kramer is tasked with implementing several initiatives launched by CEO Dawn Hudson, who has left the Academy after 11 years. She moved decisively to implement radical change in the largely white male Academy member ranks, bringing in a more diverse and younger membership from all over the world. She added three governors of color to the Board of Governors, which also became a more diverse body under Hudson’s leadership.

Already, Kramer is conducting extensive meetings around Hollywood with Academy members and others. As he evaluates the Academy staff, which more than doubled under Hudson’s 11-year tenure with the addition of museum employees and the need to manage the expansion of membership rolls, some personnel like English are staying on, while others like Hudson’s COO Christine Simmons, hired in late 2018, are out.

Other challenges facing Kramer and the Board include replacing president David Rubin, who has termed out (producer Janet Yang is gaining momentum heading into the first new Board vote in August); reforming the unwieldy 54-member board representing 17 branches of the Academy; and redefining the Academy’s Oscar mission going into the future. Will the Oscars remain on ABC and maintain a focus on theatrical movies?

Diversity and inclusion continue to be the order of the day for the Academy. The 2022 class of invited members is 44 percent women, 37 percent from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 50 percent from 53 countries and territories outside the United States. Seven branches invited more women than men, three branches invited the majority of their candidates from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and nine branches invited the majority of their candidates from outside the United States.

English will be working closely with membership drives but also will contend with another tricky wicket: the controversial Aperture 2025, which uses Oscar eligibility as a wedge to encourage Hollywood producers and executives to follow inclusion standards set by the Academy, or risk not being Oscar eligible. While the 2022 and 2023 Oscars required filling out a submission form, the 96th Oscars will be the first to enforce that eligibility. While the Liberal Academy tends to support consciousness-raising efforts, being told what to do when hiring for movies is another matter for some distributors and producers.

English will also oversee the Academy’s Academy Gold talent development programs, including the Gold Rising internship and mentorship program, Gold Fellowship for Women, Student Academy Awards, Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and the Gold Alumni Program.

After joining the Academy staff in 2020, English most recently held the post of Vice President, Impact and Operations. Prior to joining the Academy, English worked for more than a decade in the areas of global diversity and inclusion strategy, employee engagement, corporate social responsibility, cross-cultural training, and talent management. She was most recently a director at Discovery, Inc. (now Warner Bros. Discovery).

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