Film Academy's Gold Internship Program Goes Virtual

A.M.P.A.S. Oscars statuettes are on display backstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards - Getty - H 2020
Matt Petit - Handout/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Not even a pandemic can stop the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Academy Gold summer internship program, which facilitates internships for students and young professionals from underrepresented communities.

Academy Gold, now entering its fourth year, will proceed virtually with 19 entertainment industry partners, each of which will sponsor up to three interns: AMC Networks, Bron Studios, Circle of Confusion, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), The Walt Disney Company, Dolby Laboratories, DTS (part of Xperi Corporation), FotoKem, HBO, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Evolve Entertainment Fund, Moving Picture Institute, Panavision/Light Iron, Paradigm Talent Agency, Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Telsey + Company, Universal Filmed Entertainment Group and Warner Bros.

For 74 young people, 19 of whom will be interning with the Academy itself, the eight-week summer program will kick off on Wednesday with a two-day orientation that includes Academy governors, members and other industry speakers, studio and agency panels, and virtual tours of the Academy’s Film Archive, Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. There will be an extension program in the fall for students whose summer internships were put on hold due to the health crisis.

Upon completion of the program, each Gold intern will be paired with an Academy member for an eight-month mentorship. This past year, members from every branch — including Bobbi BanksSterling K. BrownBruce CohenJoyce CoxMichael GoiJane JenkinsEric RothTaura Stinson and Virgil Williams — volunteered their time and support to the program.

"We are so thankful for our industry partners, who share the Academy's commitment to creating meaningful opportunities that move the needle on inclusion in our community," Academy governor and Education and Outreach Committee chair Nancy Utley said in a statement. "Their support is integral to the success of Academy Gold, and we commend them on finding innovative ways to continue their internship programs during this challenging and uncertain time."

"In the face of a pandemic and our continued efforts to drive equity in our industry, the decision on whether or not to proceed with the Academy Gold program this summer was very clear," added Academy COO Christine Simmons. "Our pipeline program is even more critical at a time when underrepresented communities are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The needs are heightened, and we are dedicated to delivering an educational, fun and rewarding virtual experience for these students and young professionals that will change their trajectory in our industry."

To date, there are nearly 300 past Academy Gold program participants, more than 85 percent of whom have moved into positions within the industry, with 27 percent in positions higher than entry level, and represent 74 percent people of color, 64 percent women, 30 percent LGBTQ+ and 6 percent with disability.

An alumni program has been established to provide a continuum of support for all participants in the Academy’s talent development programs, including the Academy Gold internship program, Student Academy Awards, Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, and the Academy Gold Fellowship for Women.

Below, courtesy of the Academy, is a video featuring Gold alum Nicole Serrato (with whom — full disclosure — I have been friends for several years).