Black Man Chairs Television Academy For The First Time In 70 Years

A Black man, Hayma “Screech” Washington makes history as he attains the position of the chairman of the Television Academy.

Last month, the Television Academy elected a Black man, Hayma “Screech” Washington as its chairman and CEO, according to the Huffington Post. Washington is first black man or woman appointed to the position in the academy’s 70-year history, according to multiple reports.

Washington, who has received multiple Emmys as an executive producer for CBS’ “Amazing Race” will helm the annual Emmy Awards during his two-year term. Since his appointment, the industry vet has vowed to advance the Academy’s efforts towards diversity and inclusion.

I am honored to have been selected to lead the Academy and look forward to serving our membership alongside the governors, executive committee, Foundation and staff,” Washington said to Variety. “This is a time of considerable change for our industry and I am deeply committed to ensuring that the Academy is at the forefront as we move towards a more inclusive future.”

Washington’s historic appointment follows a number of industry changes this year intended to confront television and film’s disappointing statistics when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

In addition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences inviting a record 683 new members to include more women and minorities in its Oscar voting ranks, this year’s annual Primetime Emmy Awards included performers of color in each leading category for the first time in the show’s 68-year history. The show also marked Viola Davis’ historic win as the first black actress ever to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

The Academy also announced its newly-elected officers and governors serving on the Board for the 2017–2018 term, the Emmys report.

Emmy Award winner Washington, the Academy’s first Black man as a chairperson and CEO, is a seasoned television executive who currently produces and directs under his own production company banner, Screechers Pix. Washington previously served as executive producer of The Amazing Race, for which he earned seven Emmy Awards and a Producers Guild Award.

Before that he was at Walt Disney Studios for 10 years as vice president for two production divisions.

His career has also included working in live sports; on awards shows, including the MTV Video Music Awards, the ESPY Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards; music; comedy; drama; talk; independent films; and short-form digital content.

Washington has served two terms as governor for the Producers peer group, as well as co-chair of the Television Academy’s Diversity committee and on the Daytime, Primetime and Creative Arts Emmy Awards committees. In addition, he has served two terms as vice president of television for the Producers Guild of America where he is currently a member of the National Board of Directors.

The incoming officers who will serve a two-year term beginning January 1, 2017 and running through December 31, 2018 are:

  • Hayma “Screech” Washington, Chairman and CEO
  • Frank Scherma, Vice Chair
  • Steve Venezia, Second Vice Chair
  • Susan Nessanbaum-Goldberg, Secretary
  • Allison Binder, Treasurer
  • Mitch Waldow, Los Angeles Area Vice Chair.

Similarly, the Academy’s new governors will serve a two-year term through 2018; they are listed by peer group below, along with their co-governors who continue to serve a two-year term ending December 31, 2017.

Hayma “Screech” Washington has several years of experience working as an executive producer and director.

Earlier in his career, Washington was a producer for Don Ohlmeyer Communications Company. His credits include The 39th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, The Comedy Store’s 15th Reunion and several of Disney’s 4th of July Spectacular television specials. Washington was also part of the team that created and produced the first four years of the MTV Video Music Awards, and was honored to win four MTV Awards himself. He was also on the producing team for the First Annual ESPYs for ESPN.

Washington then moved on to a 10-year stint at the Walt Disney Studios and held the position of Vice President of Buena Vista Domestic and International Productions, overseeing physical production and foreign format operations. He has directed on several series and received festival awards for creating and directing the movie The Drive.

Washington served as executive producer for the CBS television show The Amazing Race. His work on the series earned him seven Primetime Emmy Awards for outstanding reality-competition program. In addition he has won a Producer Guild award for his work, and also received seven Producers Guild Award nominations.

The appointment of a Black man as a chairperson of Television Academy comes as welcoming news which might change the face of television industry in our country. We look forward to see more diversity in our television policies which will incorporate programs which have the tendency to promote Black culture.

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