FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 27, 2023, Los Angeles, CA – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that Co-Chair and CEO of Warner Bros. Pictures Group Pamela Abdy, nationally recognized trial lawyer Wylie A. Aitken, Esq. and Academy Award® winner Ariana DeBose have joined the AFI Board of Trustees.

“AFI is the place where artistry and academia meet,” said Kathleen Kennedy, Chair of AFI Board of Trustees. “The addition of Pam, Wylie and Ari to the board will further propel our national mandate to inspire, to educate and, ultimately, to drive culture forward.”

The AFI Board of Trustees comprises a panel of leaders from the film and television communities who set the Institute’s priorities and guide its national education programs and includes Jeanine Basinger, Alan Bergman, Halle Berry, Gary Birkenbeuel, Jim Breyer, James L. Brooks, Charlie Collier, Fran Drescher, Ava DuVernay, Nancy Collins Fisher, Lesli Linka Glatter, Bonnie Hammer, Dr. Carla D. Hayden, John Hendricks, Alan Horn, Lisa P. Jackson, Patty Jenkins, Michael B. Jordan, Donna Langley, Debra L. Lee, Lori Lee, David Linde, Eva Longoria, Bryan Lourd, Lori McCreary, Jonathan Miller, Edward James Olmos, Shonda Rhimes, Charles Rivkin, Jay Roach, Brian Robbins, Josh Sapan, Ted Sarandos, Frank Scherma, Chris Silbermann, Octavia Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Meredith Stiehm, Anthony Vinciquerra, Todd Wagner and Janet Yang.

The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI’s founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director.

About the new AFI Board of Trustees

Pamela Abdy

Pamela Abdy serves as Co-Chair and CEO of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, encompassing Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, DC-based films and Warner Animation Group, where she shares oversight of the Studio’s global theatrical production, marketing and distribution operations. Prior to joining Warner Bros., Abdy also served as MGM’s Motion Picture Group President, Partner and Head of Film at Makeready, President of Production at New Regency, President of Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films and Executive Vice President at Paramount Pictures. Abdy is a member of the Producers Guild of America, serves as a Governor on the Executive Board of the Executive Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is a part of The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program.

Wylie A. Aitken, Esq.

Wylie A. Aitken, Esq. is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and founding partner of Aitken*Aitken*Cohn, in Santa Ana, California. He was the youngest president in the history of the State Trial Bar Association and is continually recognized by publications such as the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the Orange County Business Journal as one of the top 100 lawyers of California. He was also named as one of the top 100 most influential lawyers and singled out nationally as one of the top 100 Irish American lawyers. He previously served as the Chair of the California Arts Council. Aitken was honored by Consumer Watchdog, a national nonprofit organization, with the Rage for Justice Lifetime Legal Achievement Award.

Ariana DeBose

Ariana DeBose is an award-winning actress known for her varying roles onstage and in film and television. In 2021, she received an Academy Award® in addition to BAFTA, Critics Choice and SAG Awards, becoming the first openly queer Afro Latina to win an Oscar®. She currently sits on the International Board of Covenant House advocating for homeless youth, many of whom identify as LGBTQIA+. She is also a board member of A is For, a reproductive rights organization started by Martha Plimpton that works to ensure that all women have access to reproductive and abortion care free of stigma.

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About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. The Conservatory, which counts Deniese Davis, Affonso Gonçalves, Susannah Grant, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas and Rachel Morrison as Alumni, is ranked the #1 film school in America. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FEST and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. AFI Movie Club is a destination for movie lovers from around the world to celebrate and engage with the art form every day. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW+ and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,, and


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