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Jennifer Garner, Tessa Thompson, Halle Bailey and country singer Kelsea Ballerini surprised three high school students in The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program with full-ride college scholarships Wednesday.
The announcement was made at THR’s 2021 Women in Entertainment event, presented by Lifetime, which was held at Los Angeles’ Fairmont Century Plaza in conjunction with the publication of the Women in Entertainment Power 100 list.
Garner opened the presentation by noting she was speaking to a room full of women who “have benefited from luck, from just God-given grit, from each other and, I’m guessing, from the privilege of top-notch educations.”
“Nothing is more powerful than making education and mentorship opportunities accessible to everyone, and that is what the Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment mentorship program does,” she said. The program, which is in its 12th year, pairs the best and brightest high school girls from underserved communities in the Los Angeles area with top-level female executives, lawyers and agents, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.
And Garner revealed, “Every girl in this room will receive a $10,000 scholarship to the school of their choice.”
The short film below then played, introducing the audience to some of the mentees and their mentors.
Following the video, Bailey took the stage and recruited Ted Lasso stars Hannah Waddingham and Toheeb Jimoh to open a giant gift box, which contained another surprise for the mentees: MacBook Air computers for every new girl in the program, thanks to the Edie Wasserman Scholarship endowed by the Wasserman Foundation.
Moving on to the scholarship presentation, it was announced that three four-year, full-ride scholarships were being presented, bringing the total amount to nearly $1 million in scholarships that the recipients could put toward their college education. Over the past seven years, the program has partnered with Loyola Marymount University to provide 28 full-ride scholarships to graduates of the program. This year, Chapman University came on board as a new partner, joining LMU. During the WIE gala, three mentees were awarded full four-year scholarships: one to LMU and two to Chapman.
Sony’s scholarship to Loyola Marymount University, presented by Garner, went to mentee Ailani from Lawndale High School (mentor Wendy Luckenbill, head of brand communications at Fox Sports); The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation’s scholarship to Chapman University, presented by Thompson, went to mentee Ashly from Kennedy High School (mentor Christine Stillings, manager of ABC Entertainment Marketing at Walt Disney Television); and Spotify’s scholarship to Chapman University, presented by Ballerini, was awarded to mentee Taya, from El Segundo High School (mentor Alexis Cooper, vp human resources at A3 Artists Agency).
More than 200 girls and 200 mentors have taken part in the Women in Entertainment program, while the mentees have gone on to attend prestigious universities, including Harvard, UC Berkeley and UCLA, supported by $10 million in scholarships raised by THR.
Past mentors have included Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, Imax Entertainment president Megan Colligan, Netflix vp content Bela Bajaria and Disney TV Studios-ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden.
The Women in Entertainment event was sponsored by Cadillac, FIJI Water, Amazon Ads, SAG-AFTRA and eOne, in partnership with Chapman University and Loyola Marymount University. The event was held in compliance with local health and safety guidelines.
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