The organization incharge of Oscar awards has elected “Selma” director, Ava DuVernay to the academy’s Board of Governors for the first time, as it slightly increases the number of female and black governors.

According to the organization, the election cycle propelled the 54-person board to new records from 25 to 26 women and from 11 to 12 people of colour.

The Board of Governors represent each of the academy’s 17 branches and work to set the organization’s strategy, finances and “fulfillment of its mission.” 

Ava DuVernay was elected to represent the directors branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on its board of governors, part of a historic wave that establishes new records for women and black people. 

  

DuVernay, whose 2014 film Selma was denied best director and best actor Oscar nominations, partially fueling the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that resulted in significant changes at the Academy, is among six people who, via elections that ran from June 1 to 5, were elected to the board for the first time. DuVernay, who was nominated for her documentary “13th,” has been an active and vocal member of the film academy for years. She recently backed up David Oyelowo’s assertion that members of the academy threatened to squash “Selma’s” awards chances after they wore T-shirts with the words “I Can’t Breathe” to the film’s New York premiere in 2014 in honor of Eric Garner.

  

DuVernay defeated incumbent Kimberly Peirce, among others.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has repeatedly been hit with criticism in recent years for a lack of diversity both among its members and among the Oscar nominees and winners they select. 

The Oscars are facing unprecedented challenges this year as a result of the pandemic. In April, over a month after theaters closed and a number of film festivals were cancelled as a safety precaution, the Academy announced revised eligibility requirements for this year, allowing movies that debuted on a streaming service to be considered for an Oscar.

The Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said at the time that their response to COVID-19 will continue to be fluid. No decisions have been made yet as to plans for the annual Governors Awards, which are typically held in the fall in Los Angeles. And at the moment the 93rd Academy Awards are still a go, set for Feb. 28, 2021, in Los Angeles.

All board members are elected to three-year terms. Seventeen of the board’s 51 seats come up for election every year; the other three are filled by appointment of the Academy president every three years. 153 Academy members across the organization’s 17 branches were candidates in the election cycle. 

Congratulations, Ava DuVernay