Underground's High School Mentorship Takes Aim at Hollywood Diversity
J.J. Abrams, Will Smith and more have lent their knowledge to the Verbum Dei High School Entertainment Club in an effort to reach out to overlooked communities for new talent.
A partnership between film/management company Underground and Verbum Dei High School, an all male career prep school in South Central L.A., is helping to prepare a fresh wave of students to be filmmakers.
Through the program, students have previously met with director J.J. Abrams, Warner Bros.' exec Greg Silverman and star Will Smith. The program is a passion project for Underground founder Trevor Engelson and writer Nick Osborne.
The current group of 10-15 students have recently been encouraged to produce a short to promote their inaugural fundraiser, which will take place Sunday afternoon at Osborne’s home in Los Angeles and help raise money for future projects. The video was written, shot and directed solely by the students in the school's entertainment club in a matter of two weeks.
"With everybody talking about diversity and wanting to see some sort of change in there but only moving the field goal a little bit at a time, we looked at what if we were able to help change it from the ground up," said Engelson. "And what if there were more minority faces in the executive rank or in the creative rank making these decisions. What would it look like then and how do you change that?”
Watch the video below: