Shawn Finnie, executive vice president of member relations, global outreach and awards for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is leaving the organization after nearly a decade, Variety learned exclusively. His last day was Thursday, July 13.
Finnie was a beloved figure within the Academy, rising through the ranks and receiving multiple promotions. His departure comes after he was last promoted to his position in June 2021 by former COO Christine Simmons. He has led engagement and outreach initiatives for the organization’s global membership of over 10,000 artists, filmmakers and executives. In addition, he managed a team of more than 20 team members.
The departure comes after several black executives left senior positions at several Hollywood studios and organizations. His former colleague Jeanell English, executive vice president of impact and inclusion, also left the organization last month. Finnie worked on several DEI initiatives for the Academy and was popular with members, including Rosie Perez during Variety Power of Women NYC event, which credited her as one of the key figures who invited her back to the Oscars after 30 years.
The mass exodus of black executives has caught the attention of those in Hollywood and local politicians, including the California Black Caucus, who have called on studios to explain the multiple departures.
It’s also worth noting that the Academy recently hired Tamika Etheart to run its operations in New York. Etheart joins the Academy from the Paley Center, replacing Patrick Harrison, another esteemed veteran of the organization, who left in March 2022 after 22 years.
The Academy is in the first year of implementing the diversity and inclusion standards announced in 2020 as part of its Aperture 2024 initiative. Although the measures were announced three years ago, vocal critics like Richard Dreyfus have since complained about the efforts.
Following the announcement of 398 industry professionals invited to join the Academy last month, membership now stands at 34% women, 18% from underrepresented communities and 20% from outside the United States.