Laura Dern is on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Pictures, giving her power on various committees that form the membership and power centers for the Oscars. She is now a contender for the position held by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is stepping down as president after four years of pretty crazy Oscar shit. If Dern is nominated on Tuesday, she could become only the second actress to hold the position in 76 years.
In a compelling argument for Dern’s presidency on Monday, writer Rebecca Keegan explains how it would be a historic bid following some rocky changes at the Academy. This year’s giant Best Picture mistake made the whole production look like a bunch of amateurs. The Academy is building a $400 million museum, which has put them in huge debt. The problems with diversity raised every year finally began a series of initiatives that are causing plenty of conflicts amongst members, who largely remain old and white. It’s not an easy job, and the only other woman in Dern’s field to ever hold it was Bette Davis:
When Bette Davis arrived at her first meeting as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president in 1941, the two-time Oscar winner had studied the group’s bylaws and was prepared to launch a slate of reforms aimed at classing up the joint. “It became clear to me that this was a surprise,” Davis said later, of her contentious stint in the job. “I was not supposed to preside intelligently.”
Davis is the only actress ever to hold the position leading Hollywood’s most elite club, and she resigned in frustration after just two months.
Michael Cieply at Deadline also explored the possibility of Dern’s election in late July, suggesting that her very persona would change the expectations of the position. At 50, Dern would be one of the youngest Academy presidents ever, who tend to be in their late 60s through early 80s.
She is also a working actress, and recently opened her own production studio, Jaywalker Pictures, which is dedicated to creating roles for older women. That might mean she’d become the public face of the organization, with a co-president who has more freedom to make policy decisions, shifting the balance of power, perhaps even to CEO Dawn Hudson.
When asked about her possible nomination by the Los Angeles Times in June, Dern seemed ready with quips and vocal support of the Academy’s initiatives, including the controversial museum:
“It’s just speculative at the moment,” Dern told The Times recently, playfully adding that she has taken note of the gavel the academy president wields, wondering if it would come in handy with her two children. (“They’d probably tune it out like they do the sound of my voice,” she joked.)
Dern strongly endorsed Hudson’s leadership, saying her longtime friend is “doing a great job” and that the “museum is going to be incredible, both for the academy and the city of Los Angeles.”
“The deep attempt to bring diversity and female power into the academy has been inspiring,” Dern said.