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Known for defending the citizens of Wakanda in Black Panther, the cast was ready to take on a new mission by surprising a student with a full-ride scholarship during The Hollywood Reporter‘s 2018 Women in Entertainment event, which was held Wednesday at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira were on hand at the star-studded gala to present the new scholarship — The Black Panther Scholarship — created by Walt Disney Studios, which gave one girl from THR‘s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program a scholarship worth $250,000 to Loyola Marymount University. The program, now in its ninth year, is executed in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.
“We know that if we want to live in a world that looks more like Wakanda, the first step is you invest in women and girls,” said Gurira, who received a loud round of applause from the audience.
Boseman took a moment to thank Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios president Alan Bergman, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and “the entire team at the Walt Disney Studios” before announcing the winner — Kalis, 17, who plans to become a pediatric dermatologist and is currently attending high school in Inglewood.
After being awarded the scholarship, Kalis said: “I would like to thank my parents who birthed me, who made me who I am today. … I just want to stand and say this is for girls who live in Compton, who live in Inglewood, and this is for girls and men who face adversities. I just want to say that we can do it and it is possible.”
Kesha was also on hand to unveil a surprise for other mentees as she presented more scholarships for a total of $1.8 million awarded Wednesday.
Prior to announcing the presentation, the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter discussed the importance of creating an “equal and safe environment for both men and women in the workplace,” which she said would ultimately allow anyone to focus on “being the best actress, best singer, best songwriter, best stylist, best makeup artist, best director, best producer, best writer, the best in whatever you want to be.”
The scholarships were awarded to L.A. teens from underserved communities who are currently taking part in the Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program. Each of the 18 girls finishing her mentorship year will receive a $10,000 scholarship to attend the university of her choice, with six girls receiving full-ride scholarships worth more than $250,000 each to attend Loyola Marymount University, a longtime partner in the program. Since the program’s inception, more than $6 million in scholarship money has been raised.
Kesha also took a moment to thank “guardian angels” Chuck Lorre and Lori Greiner. The Big Bang Theory producer Lorre funded two scholarships to recipients Zyrah and Veronica, who both expressed shock before taking the stage.
Greiner, the entrepreneur and inventor featured on Shark Tank, donated her second annual full-ride scholarship to Emily, who took a moment to thank THR‘s Stephen Galloway for making a “huge change in their lives.” Greiner recently received an award from Big Brothers Big Sisters in honor of her work and generosity at the annual gala of BBBS’ Los Angeles chapter. Additional full-ride scholarships were also provided by Lionsgate, which went to Yessenia, and by Twitter, which was awarded to Denise.
“I want to tell every girl that anything is possible. These are for girls in Guatemala … girls who think that it’s not possible. This is for all of us,” Yessenia emotionally said.
Kesha also took a moment to note that, for the first time, the Wasserman Foundation funded a new annual $10,000 scholarship, the Edie Wasserman Scholarship, which led to another surprise for each of the young girls. “Every mentee in the 2019 cohort is getting a tool that’s crucial to her success: a brand-new MacBook Air laptop. Congratulations to all of you,” Kesha announced, as the girls received a round of applause while accepting their new computers.
The additional $10,000 scholarships are co-funded by Lifetime and Entertainment Industry Foundation. Lifetime is naming its gift the Abbe Raven Scholarship “in honor of its longtime leader and a passionate believer in education,” Kesha noted.
American Airlines gifted each graduating mentee 50,000 AAdvantage miles to help them with travel from their hometowns to their future universities, while SAG-AFTRA also gifted mentees with backpacks filled with supplies to help set them up for success when they head to college.
The Power 100 Women in Entertainment Event Presented by Lifetime was sponsored by American Airlines, Cadillac, Fiji Water, eOne, Gersh, Loyola Marymount University and SAG-AFTRA, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and Entertainment Industry Foundation.
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