The University of Southern California boasts one of the world’s greatest film schools, with notable alums among its ranks, including Judd Apatow, Ron Howard, and George Lucas standing out on a list of the literally hundreds of Hollywood big shots who have graced its halls. But much like the Hollywood dream factory that plucks its recruits directly from each graduating class, USC’s alumni list also happens to be mostly white, and while there are many reasons for this imbalance, it probably has a lot to do with the school’s exorbitant private university tuition.
Thankfully, George Lucas is committed to changing that. Back in 2015, the school announced he donated $10 million to his alma mater in order to establish The George Lucas Family Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity. The first scholarships were handed out in the fall semester of 2016 to those with a demonstrated financial need and who come from underrepresented communities (with priority given to black and Latino students) at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
On Monday, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley revealed that Lucas Family Foundation expanded its support of the program and pledged an additional $10 million to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Michael Renov, vice dean of academic affairs at the School of Cinematic Arts remarked on the importance of the donation, “This endowed fund allows us to recruit storytellers whose voices are underrepresented in cinematic media, and whose inclusion benefits all of us.”
So why would someone like George Lucas be so interested in fostering diverse voices and stories in American cinema? Well, it happens that Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, is one of the most powerful African-American women in the entertainment industry, and given that her name is also attached to the scholarship, she just might have had something to do with it. As Lucas explained two years ago before their first endowment, “Hispanic and African-American storytellers are underrepresented in the entertainment industry. It is Mellody’s and my privilege to provide this assistance to qualified students who want to contribute their unique experience and talent to telling their stories.”
[h/t: The Hollywood Reporter]