It’s widely known that 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 pretty damn white, and while there are undoubtedly myriad reasons for this imbalance, it probably has a little to do with the school’s exorbitant private university tuition.
Thankfully, George Lucas is about to change all that. The 94th richest man in the world recently committed to donating $10 million to his alma mater in order to establish The George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity. Now we can be sure that no one will ever pronounce that name in its entirety, but it does a decent job of getting the idea across: the fund will support scholarships for black and Latino students to pursue studies in film at USC. Starting next year, the scholarships will be divvied up evenly between young men and women for studies at both the graduate and undergraduate level.
So why would someone like George Lucas be so interested in fostering “diverse voices and stories” in American cinema? Well, 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. Lucas explains, “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.”
Now start working on those applications, kids.