George Lucas Family Foundation Endowment Provides $10 Million for Underrepresented Film Students at USC
Students of color have a new benefactor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts! George Lucas’ Family Foundation has provided the school with a $10 Million endowment to provide financial support to black and Latinx film students!
This endowment from George Lucas and his wife/DreamWorks Chairman of the Board, Mellody Hobson, is the largest single donation for student support in USC history, but Lucas and Hobson clearly prioritize leveling the playing field for filmmakers of color. According to a release from USC News, Lucas says:
Hispanic and African-American storytellers are underrepresented in the entertainment industry. It is Mellody’s and my privilege to provide this assistance to qualified students who want to contribute their unique experience and talent to telling their stories.
The financial gift establishes the George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity, and black or Latinx students at the undergraduate and graduate levels will receive priority consideration. (PS – the School of Cinematic Arts also has other grants for other underrepresented groups.) What’s even cooler as far as leveling the playing field, is that there will always be male and female winners of the award each year. Male winners will become George Lucas Scholars and female winners will be Mellody Hobson Scholars. The first award recipients will be chosen in the Fall 2016 semester.
There are plenty of things that Hollywood can do to work toward more diversity in its ranks, but equally important is making sure that artists of color have opportunities at the film school level, so they can not only learn and grow as artists, but have the chance to network with their peers and make the connections necessary to move forward in the entertainment industry. I love that Lucas and Hobson have made this gift, and I also love that they’ve eliminated the possibility of gender being a factor by ensuring that men and women will always have an equal shot at the prize.
Now, all they need is a Lucas-Hobson Scholar slot for genderqueer/non-binary students, and they’ll be all set!
(Image via Getty Images)
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