It's debatable whether LAUSD can give students a better shot at the Ivies — but these industry-favored institutions (which count will.i.am and J.J. Abrams as grads) offer academics that stack up to the privates.
Here's something no parent shelling out $30,000-plus for private school wants to hear: A smart, driven student has as good a chance of getting into an elite college coming from a public school. "With public applicants, you often see a level of resourcefulness, self-motivation and grit that sets them apart," says Ed Boland, a former Ivy League admissions officer. Plus, he adds, public school kids often are more comfortable in large, diverse environments. For those navigating the daunting Los Angeles Unified School District, with its 734,000 students, consultants like Tanya Anton (author of the GoMamaGuide) can help. "They come to me confused and stressed," says Anton, who also conducts seminars at the studios. She demystifies magnets (which are organized around themes like performing arts; admission involves a point system) and charter schools (which are outside district lines; admission is by lottery). The industry's favorite publics:
This story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Palisades Charter Elementary and Bel Air's Roscomare Elementary see big contingents of industry offspring (UnREAL showrunner Stacy Rukeyser has a child at Roscomare), and Paul Revere Middle School, which serves Pacific Palisades and Brentwood and where will.i.am went, is the middle school most name-checked by people in the biz. It feeds into Pacific Palisades High School ("Pali," where Modern Family shoots scenes), alma mater of Jeff Bridges, Katey Sagal, Forest Whitaker and J.J. Abrams — who named a Star Wars character after teacher "Mama G" (Rose Gilbert, now deceased, taught English for 50-plus years). Rivals Franklin and Roosevelt elementaries, a mile apart on Montana and both part of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, are stocked with children of producers (like Brian Grazer). One insider says Malibu High is popular with a "Hollywood hippie crowd" that lives by the beach year-round; Dominique Swain and the Hadids are grads. The Silicon Beach crowd makes its presence known at Venice's Broadway Avenue Elementary and at Manhattan Beach's Grand View and Robinson elementaries.
WME's Christian Muirhead sent his daughter to Hancock Park's Third Street Elementary, citing great teachers, active parents and the principal. While its Korean dual-language program gets a thumbs-up from APA's Debbie Deuble Hill, she says the key is the staff. "They were able to identify my children's specific needs and customize their work." Hollywood's Wonderland Elementary (which maintains a learning organic garden) is beloved by industry parents, especially those whose progeny can get in to its gifted program.
"The academics are strong and the teachers are committed," says UTA's Brent Weinstein of Lanai Road Elementary in Encino. "My kids had an amazing experience." Dixie Canyon in Sherman Oaks is known for its arts programs. Proximity to Warner Bros. and CBS is a big draw for Studio City's Carpenter Elementary (CBS has lent it soundstages). Top-notch middle schools and high schools include Millikan Middle School, Calabasas High, Agoura Hills (Heather Graham) and Studio City's Walter Reed, which counts Mayim Bialik, Alyson Hannigan, Brian Austin Green and Rachel Bilson as alums.