Despite all obstacles, then-Director Bill Kramer led the Academy Museum to its successful opening in 2021. With his proven leadership, Bill became the new CEO of A.M.P.A.S. in July 2022.
And the Oscar goes to...
The 2022 Oscar for Best Picture
was awarded to a film about a deaf family
played by real deaf actors.
With an Asian woman winning Best Director
and more Korean movies being recognized,
Academy Awards have recently been
diversifying more than ever before.
Bill Kramer has been tapped
as the new CEO of the transforming
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
After being highly evaluated for successfully
opening the Academy Museum in 2021,
he's assuming this expanded role.
It was an evolution.
We were iterating, we evolved.
We are a living, breathing project
and I think that evolution was needed.
We will ask Bill
how he headed up the museum
that reflects the time and leads the way
with the concept of diversity.
So taking over as CEO of the Academy
after running the museum
and opening the museum to me
is just an elevation of all of the work
we've been doing in the museum.
We're all about preserving our film history,
ensuring that we have a healthy
and diverse film history,
and really getting people
back to the theaters,
interested in watching movies
and really exploring
our global film community.
My aspirations running the museum
have now been just elevated in my role
as CEO of the Academy.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures,
which had been one of the biggest dreams
of the Hollywood film industry,
finally opened in Los Angeles in September 2021
after many years of preparations.
Bill's principle has apparently been adapted
throughout the museum.
He shows us round.
So I'll do my runway pivots.
Yeah, that'd be great.
No, no, no, I'm not doing that.
Okay, so let's walk. Let's walk.
So this is the incredible Spike Lee Gallery.
We worked with Spike to bring his collection.
You learn about who Spike is,
and then you'll see it
reflected in his movies.
We have access to the
world's largest film-related collection,
but also we have access to over 10,000
international film artists and professionals.
So these are our resources.
These are our tools.
This gallery, one of Bill's favorites,
features the acceptance speeches
of past Oscar winners
projected on the wall.
I just love walking into that gallery
and seeing so many visitors
just stop in their tracks,
watch these speeches, get emotional.
It tugs at your heartstring.
It humanizes the experience of the Oscars.
And you learn about their story.
And this is the gallery that reflects
his and the Academy's strong commitment.
Twenty Oscars of historical significance
are on display here.
They are the actual Oscars
received by the winners,
but one seems to be missing.
What's really, I think captivating,
people really remember this space.
We left this vitrine empty.
Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award
for Best Supporting Actress for
"Gone with the Winds."
In 1940, Hattie McDaniel
became the first African American
to win an Oscar.
Today, her Academy Award of Merit is missing
but nonetheless, her Best Supporting
Actress Award is commemorated here.
Bill explains the intention of this display.
I think the absence also
highlights the challenges
that black actors have faced in the industry.
So it's very symbolic and very powerful.
Now let's listen to Hatti McDaniel's
Academy Award acceptance speech.
I sincerely hope
I shall always be a credit to my race
and to the motion picture industry.
My heart is too full
to tell you just how I feel.
And may I say thank you.
And God bless you.
Bill reflects on the discriminatory treatment
she had to endure on the day of celebration.
I think it was extremely challenging.
The ceremony was in a segregated space,
so she had to sit in the back of the room
even though she was winning
an Oscar that night.
So no matter how much she was lauded
and celebrated for this performance,
she was still treated differently.
And I think that was very painful for her.
And any black actor, any BIPOC actor or
actress, artist for many, many decades.
And this sparks a lot of that discussion.
The museum exhibits other negative aspects
of the industry's legacy.
These racially stereotyped foundation makeups
were designated for use by
Caucasian actors and actresses
playing characters such as
Chinese or Tahitian.
Why does the Academy Museum
openly exhibit such items
that expose its not so celebratory past?
When we talk about our history,
we wanted to be honest and transparent.
So our goal in those moments
is not to shock or to alienate,
but to draw people closer,
to learn more about our industry.
And these were different times.
There was different context to all of the
decisions that were made back then.
Our job is to highlight that
and to create a space
where we can talk about it safely
and heal if it's something
that's traumatized you
or a member of your family
or your community.
So we want this to be positive
and healing and exciting,
and I think honesty gets us there.
William Kramer was born in 1968
in Towson, Maryland,
into a movie-loving family.
Well, film has been a love my whole life.
I've been a massive consumer.
When I was younger, I didn't think,
"Oh, I'm going to move to Los Angeles
and be in the movies,"
even though it's all I thought about
and it's all I really loved.
He received a bachelor's degree in business
administration at the University of Texas
and a Master of Urban Planning
at New York University,
and joined the Metropolitan
Transport Authority in New York.
But his career took off
when he used his fundraising skills
for the Sundance Institute
and became the Academy Museum's
of Development and External Relations.
When I was hired here in 2012,
it felt like everything moved to one place.
So I was able to bring fundraising,
a love of film and my urban planning
background to this project.
And it was a dream
I couldn't have created a better confluence
of tasks and responsibilities.
Bill's sincere and diplomatic nature
helped him successfully
complete the fundraising mission
and he left the Academy Museum in 2016.
But soon after that,
turmoil rattled Hollywood.
It was the OscarsSoWhite
social justice campaign.
In 2016, for the second year in a row,
no acting nominations
went to people of color.
As the criticism grew and
the #OscarsSoWhite went viral,
many members of the Academy
boycotted the award ceremony.
Together with the #MeToo movement
fighting sexual harassment,
the criticism of the
Hollywood Film Industry intensified.
So I was not at the Academy at that point,
but of course, I followed it closely.
It didn't surprise me.
I think it was something that had to be said.
It was a moment where we were
looking at the industry and questioning,
"Why is that the case as we
diversify our Academy membership?
If we're still seeing non-diverse
selections and categories,
we need the industry to better reflect
who we are as a country in the world."
So I think the world has shifted in ways
that have informed this project
in very positive ways.
However, opinions on
how the museum should look
were divided among the
Academy's more than 10,000 members.
It was already way past
the original opening date of 2017,
and the project was suffering from
a huge cost overrun.
Then, in 2019,
Bill Kramer was asked to return
as the new museum director
to rescue the museum project
that was on the verge of collapse.
Even though it might further
push back the schedule,
what he did first was to
listen to the Academy members.
He created an environment where they could
voice their opinions on the project.
So we set up a variety of committees.
One was the Inclusion Advisory Committee
that is made up of black, indigenous,
members of the disabled community,
to help us ensure that
our exhibitions told diverse,
celebratory stories as well,
but also addressed things like
lack of female representation,
racist hair and make-up,
that have been components of our past
that we are less proud of.
We did surface a lot of those components
and will continue to do so
because we want to tell an honest,
complete story of our film history.
In addition to this policy,
the museum shifted from its original concept
of presenting film history chronologically
to showing dynamically how film
has evolved along with society.
Moreover, galleries are
rotated every few months
so that many stories can be told over time.
As for fundraising,
Bill's positive narrative skills successfully
brought additional contribution commitments,
and the project was back on track.
But now we can't help but wonder:
how did all the talented and
not-so-shy Academy members react
to all these drastic changes to the plan?
We have over 10,000 members,
so it's over 10,000 opinions.
It's safe to say that not everyone
agrees on everything all the time.
So there are always moments of
You know, I think whenever
you're telling a narrative
that is not the traditional narrative
that we've engaged with for decades,
there are moments where
people feel a little surprised or concerned,
but that's not been the
overwhelming response to this.
So what I've seen, my experience has been
that if there is any resistance to this,
once they engage with the content,
they feel much differently.
And I think everyone wants honesty.
These are honest, clear, transparent moments.
And again, also celebratory moments,
and I think people love that combination.
It feels real.
Nearly ten years after
the project first got underway,
the museum finally opened in 2021.
Why did this project
take so long to come together?
You know, we were really
making it up from scratch
and that's so exciting.
So, I think that period of time was needed,
and it's not an unusually long period of time
to make something of this scale,
300,000 square feet, a reality.
And what we're hearing and seeing is
that the public is
really responding well to this.
I still can't believe it.
I can't believe I got to play in this space
and still get to.
So I'm very, very lucky
and I know that and really feel very lucky
and very humbled
by being able to do all of this.
Bill Kramer became the new CEO
of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts
and Sciences in July 2022,
nine months after the museum opened.
The Academy is still
facing various challenges
such as the low viewership ratings
of the award ceremony,
reverse bias caused by
aggressive diversity initiatives,
and the decline of the industry itself.
But with his proven leadership at the museum,
Bill is ready to tackle these new challenges.
And I know as CEO of the Academy,
not every day is going to be easy,
but I am, I was confident about this project,
I'm confident about our future.
And I think we're living with the proof
that we were able to do this
and do it well.
We can see Bill's determination as a leader
in his precious motto.
There we go:
"Enter and navigate with clarity,
compassion and consistency."
Clarity and Consistency:
I think there's a lot of chaos
and noise in the world.
And I think as a leader,
allowing people to feel safe and secure
and understood stems from
clarity and consistency.
It doesn't mean that
you don't pivot when you need to.
You stay open.
And the middle word, Compassion.
We're working together
in high pressure moments
around a lot of needs and demands.
And I think ensuring that you're being human
and listening to your team
and your colleagues,
leading with compassion
and bringing people close and being human
is the only way to do it.
I love this place.
It's my baby. It's our baby.
It's the collective film industry's baby.
These are dream jobs for me!