Sunday, May 26, 2024

American Film Institute 2018 Answer to Dwindling Finances: Fire the Popular Black Woman With a Low Salary


The American Film Institute made an interesting decision yesterday in the face of deteriorating finances and the current political climate: they laid off their only black executive, a woman, who was popular and talented and highly regarded.

Ousted is Jacqueline Lyanga, head of the AFI Film Festival, who’s been with the Institute since at least 2005. Her job goes to Michael Lumpkin, who was already head of AFI Documentaries, a lower position. She was the only black executive in the AFI hierarchy, but paid so little already that she didn’t make their mandated list of top paid execs sent to the IRS annually.

Lumpkin, according to the IRS Form 990 that is published, made over $120,000 in 2016. Lyanga’s salary was so low it didn’t even merit reporting.

AFI CEO Bob Gazzale makes $567,000 a year.

Also quietly gone in the last year is a…woman, of course. Liza Ameen, chief of marketing, made $170,000 a year.

Of course, the AFI has already had some problems with women, and they’re not pretty. (The accusations, that is.)

Gazzale’s efforts to lower salaries seems to be getting rid of female execs, and in Lyanga’s case, the only woman representing diversity. Lyanga was born in Tanzania, raised in England and Canada, and provided the only refreshingly non-Caucasian perspective to programming the AFI Film Festival.

What’s kind of interesting is that on the 2016 Form 990, Lumpkin– who is only being promoted to director of AFI Festivals– was already listed that way. Lyanga, according to the filing, didn’t even merit that distinction.

I told you last week when they were busy honoring George Clooney in a show that will be aired next week on TNT, that the AFI finances were shrinking at an alarming rate.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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