Howard And Amazon Studios Launch Program To Diversify Entertainment Industry

This is going to be a big Homecoming season for the students of Howard University, the historically Black university located in Washington DC. Not only is Amazon Studios the lead sponsor of this year’s Annual Yardfest, the University’s popular concert series, but the organization also announced today that they will be partnering with Howard University to launch Howard Entertainment, a program that aims to diversify the entertainment industry by training African-American students and students from other marginalized communities for a career in the entertainment industry. The program, slated to begin in January 2020, will boast of an interdisciplinary curriculum that will allow Howard students to receive hands-on work experience and train them to network with Amazon’s industry partners. 

“Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders. With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians and musicians, this next level collaboration will enable us to have an even greater impact,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA in a press release. “This relationship aligns with Howard’s strategic goals of enhancing academic excellence and inspiring new knowledge,” he added.

Interested students have to undergo a competitive application and interview process to be selected for the program, which is presently open to the University’s students who are either upperclassmen or graduate students. The Howard Entertainment program will be an immersive two semester program based out of Los Angeles. The students will be expected to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship during the summer semester. While the Howard faculty will be teaching the academic courses, Amazon Studios employees, and other industry professionals invited by Amazon, will be instrumental in training the students during the fellowship.

The credits from the academic coursework will contribute towards the student’s graduation requirements and the fellowship will provide hands-on experience of working in the entertainment industry. The program will train students on key skills required to make a career in the industry, even before they graduate, thereby ensuring a diverse future generation of entertainment executives. It will also focus on inspiring and sharpening entrepreneurial talents. 

Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, said, “Amazon Studios has been working to create new pathways into the industry for talented students of all backgrounds and we are proud to team with Howard on this new program supporting aspiring entertainment leaders.” “As we strive to delight our Prime Video customers, we’re ensuring there are diverse perspectives and experiences around the table to help us make the best decisions in all aspects of the business,” she added in the press release.

“This program is all about intentionality – being intentional about increasing and preparing the next generation of African American, Latinx and Native American storytellers, casts, crew, and executives working on these projects, ” added Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studio’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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I attended graduate school in Cinema Studies at Tisch School of the Arts and have worked extensively in the documentary film world, particularly in the areas of funding

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