Film producer Janet Yang, head of Janet Yang Productions, speaks following a contract signing event held as part of the Beijing International Film Festival in Beijing on April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

By JAKE COYLE, Associated Press

NEW YORK — Producer Janet Yang has been elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group’s Board of Governors announced Tuesday, making her the first Asian American to lead the film academy.

Yang, the 66-year-old producer of “The Joy Luck Club” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” becomes the fourth woman to lead the organization behind the Oscars. Elected by the academy’s 54-member board, Yang succeeds outgoing president David Rubin, the veteran casting director, who is stepping down after three years due to term limits.

In this June 1, 2014, photo, Janet Yang arrives at the Huading Film Awards held at the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Along with academy chief executive Bill Kramer, the former Academy Museum director who was named to the post in June, Yang will be tasked with shepherding the academy through continued evolution in the film industry and with stabilizing the Academy Awards, which in recent years have been beset by scandal and declining ratings.

The Queens-born Yang, a daughter of Chinese immigrants, has long been a significant figure in Hollywood’s Asian American community. She has served on the academy’s Board of Governors since 2019 as one of three governors-at-large who were added following the #OscarsSoWhite scandal to help boost inclusion in the film academy.

Yang, an executive producer of the 2020 Oscar-nominated animated film “Over the Moon,” is just the second person of color to be the academy’s president, following Cheryl Boone Isaacs. She also co-chairs the academy’s Asian Affinity Group.

“Janet is a tremendously dedicated and strategic leader who has an incredible record of service at the academy,” Kramer said in a statement. “She has been instrumental in launching and elevating several academy initiatives on membership recruitment, governance, and equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

After several years of declining ratings, March’s Oscar broadcast drew a larger audience than 2021’s show, but its 16.6 million viewers was still the second-smallest on record. The telecast, of course, was marred by Will Smith slapping Chris Rock on stage. Smith has since resigned his academy membership, and was banned from attending any academy event for the next decade.

Janet Yang’s credits as a producer include “The Joy Luck Club” (1993), in which all of the main characters were Asian women.

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