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The Hollywood Reporter revealed the launch of its first-ever inclusion initiative, The Young Executives Fellowship, on Tuesday at the publication’s inaugural Empowerment in Entertainment event, held at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Aided by launch sponsors WME and Amazon Studios, the Fellowship aims to create a pipeline for future leaders in film and television, in conjunction with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. Each year, 20 high school juniors will be chosen on a highly competitive basis for a two-year program that will include curriculum and mentoring; all will be selected from underserved schools in Los Angeles, Compton and Inglewood. While they are in school, each of the Young Execs will receive a paid summer internship at one of THR‘s partner companies — WME, Amazon, Imax, eOne, OWN, Starz and THR itself — with a view to launching their careers.
The Fellowship aims to complement and inspire similar efforts across the entertainment industry and will be overseen by an advisory board that includes Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, former Paramount Pictures chairman Sherry Lansing, King Center CEO Martin Luther King III and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
At Tuesday’s event, Selena Gomez introduced the inaugural class and announced that two full-ride scholarships will be available thanks to new partnerships with Emerson College and Howard University. In addition, THR editorial director Matthew Belloni announced that Skydance Media has committed $100,000, while WME and Emanuel have committed $250,000. Each of the participants also was presented with their own MacBook Air computer courtesy of Twitter.
“These students are going to be brought into a world where they go, ‘Aha. So, this is what’s happening. This is how it’s done,'” said Oprah Winfrey, who was honored Tuesday as THR‘s inaugural Empowerment in Entertainment recipient, of the Young Executives Fellowship program. “Someone has to do exactly what Maya Angelou says in that poem: ‘Nobody makes it out here alone.'”
The program is akin to THR‘s successful Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, which teams THR with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and Loyola Marymount University to offer high school girls powerful female mentors in Hollywood. Since 2009, the WIE program has provided $7.8 million in college scholarships and made an immeasurable impact on the lives of hundreds of girls (and their mentors).
“I believe a major challenge in attempting to diversify an industry that for decades has been unwilling to do so is that there’s no clear pipeline for future leaders. Ambitious young men and women of color, from disadvantaged backgrounds and the LGBTQ community, need a better path to enter the industry and start the journey toward the corner offices, where they can stamp their viewpoint and experience on the hugely influential product Hollywood creates,” said Belloni.
Key to the launch of the program was Stephen Galloway, executive editor, features, at THR, who also oversees the WIE mentorship program.
The news coincides with the publication THR‘s first-ever Empowerment in Entertainment “Agents of Change” list. The Hollywood Reporter also announced Tuesday the launch of a new video conversation series, Emerging Hollywood, that will feature on-the-rise voices in entertainment sharing their views on topics including inclusion, racial politics, gender and body positivity with TV and radio personality Charlamagne tha God. The series is set to premiere May 2 with The Daily Show host Trevor Noah and continue weekly on Thursdays exclusively on THR.com, YouTube and other digital partners.
The Empowerment in Entertainment event was presented by WME with platinum sponsor Amazon Prime VIdeo and sponsored by Entertainment One, Imax, OWN, Starz and Casamigos.
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