The producer Janet Yang has been elected as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at a virtual meeting that was called to choose a successor to the casting director David Rubin.
As a member of the Academy’s Producers Branch, Yang has also served as a vice president of the board, though is more popularly known for her production work on such movies as The Joy Luck Club, The People vs. Larry Flynt and more recently, the animated feature film Over the Moon.
Becoming the first Academy president of Asian descent and the fourth woman ever to hold the position, following in the footsteps of Bette Davis, Fay Kanin and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, all whilst 31 men have held the position in the institution’s near-100-year-long history. Her appointment also comes in unique circumstances, with Yang not elected by members of her own branch, instead being brought to her position with the help of three Governors at Large positions selected by the AMPAS president, filled by people of colour.
Having had a significant impact on international cinema in modern times, Yang has proven to have a healthy relationship with Steven Spielberg, serving as a representative in China on Empire of the Sun. Yang also helped popularise Chinese cinema in the American industry.
She takes to the position at a time when Asian cinema has gone through a new wave of appreciation, with the likes of Parasite, Minari and Drive My Car each being honoured at Oscar ceremonies in the past few years.
Her appointment has also been made in a time of great turmoil for the Academy, with the iconic movie institution having to deal with the damaging after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the panned Oscar show of 2022 that saw Will Smith slap Chris Rock live on stage.