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CinemaCon: Cheryl Boone Isaacs Receives Pioneer Award, Stresses Diversity

Variety logo Variety 3/30/2017 Dave McNary
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Cheryl Boone Isaacs accepted the Pioneer of the Year Award at CinemaCon on Wednesday night and used her acceptance speech to stress the need for diversity in Hollywood.

“We’re all stronger, our art is more alive, our industry more innovative when we are awakened to fresh perspective,” she said in a speech at Caesars Palace. “I believe we all have a responsibility to open our industry to reflect the complete mosaic and diversity of our country and the world.”

Boone Isaacs, who is in her fourth and final year as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was honored by the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. She is the first African-American and third woman to hold the office of Academy president and has represented the public relations branch of the Academy as a Governor for 24 years.

Boone Isaacs oversees the Oscar ceremonies and has been leading several Academy initiatives to diversify the membership of the organization following the #OscarsSoWhite protest. As a result, AMPAS added 683 members in 2016 —  46% women and 41%  people of color.

“As Academy president, I wanted to make sure our entire industry saw the value in diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Yes, it’s a personal thing to me as a woman and a woman of color. But it should be personal to everyone.”

She’s also gained recognition for moving to resolve the fiasco in this year’s Best Picture announcement with AMPAS unveiling Wednesday a revised set of  procedures to preclude a similar snafu in the future.

David Oyelowo, who met Boone Isaacs when his film “Selma” became an awards contender, presented Boone Isaacs with the honor.

“It was around that time of the controversy, otherwise known as ‘Oscars So White,’ that I met Cheryl,” he said. “It was then I realized there was no better person than Cheryl to help push change. To people who are underrepresented, to have someone like you to look up to – I know when you’re no longer president of the Academy, we’re going to miss you.”

Boone Isaacs also runs her own company, CBI Enterprises, where she has created and executed publicity campaigns for “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” She was previously president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema with campaigns for “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “The Wedding Singer,” “Rush Hour” and “Blade.” Prior to her role at New Line Cinema, Boone Isaacs worked at Paramount Pictures for 13 years, eventually becoming the studio’s worldwide director of publicity and leading campaigns for “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart.”

Boone Isaacs was inducted into the NAACP Hall of Fame in 2014 and was awarded the Rosa Parks Humanitarian award last year by the Southern Christian leadership Conference of Southern California.

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