Lionsgate Jumpstarts Howard University Program To Bring More Diversity Into Hollywood


Thanks to Lionsgate, students at Howard University in D.C. are getting a chance to learn the entertainment business through paid internship programs. Lionsgate is the first entertainment company to join forces with Howard University to start the educational institute’s program that has allows six to 12 students to learn the filmmaking and television businesses. This particular program was launched by UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

The idea for this came from Sen. Kamala Harris, who is a Howard alumni and mentioned to Lionsgate that intern programs with higher education could increase diversity across the entertainment business. “She was one of the catalysts to help raise awareness around this opportunity,” Jay Tucker, Exec Director at the Center for MEMES (Media, Entertainment & Sports) at UCLA told Deadline. “It really helped to get the ball rolling.”

“Howard University has produced several graduates from film, law, business and theater who have paved their own paths into Hollywood through their persistence, however there is more work to do before the entertainment industry reflects the diverse audiences it serves,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement to Deadline. “I applaud our partners at Lionsgate for building a bridge from higher education to the workplace which will help diversify Hollywood behind the camera and create a new generation of executives.”

Lionsgate and UCLA hope to grow this program to include other HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and women’s colleges to give students who would normally not have the chance a pipeline into the industry. They are also hoping to have other studios, networks and production companies join the program to help in diversifying the ranks in Hollywood.

HBCU higher education institutions were established before the 1964 Civil Rights Act with the primary intention of serving African-American communities. Howard University is one of the highest-ranking HBCU in this nation.

“The courses that we focus on here, they are really only the only courses that students can take that combines guests lectures, field trips and they also have capstone projects built into each class — these are resume building, hands-on projects,” Tucker said. “We have tons of access to executives and we really use the city as a lab. The program with Howard University (helps) the diversity pipeline. No one is offering what we can with the combination of what we have. Lionsgate has really been instrumental in pushing this initiative and we hope others in the industry will join in to help us with this all-important program.”

The students are undergrads placed in companies for 20 to 25 hours in paid internships at roughly $13 to $15 an hour.

Lionsgate employed three interns motion picture, production, worldwide TV/digital distribution and talent acquisition. One of the interns has already been hired for an entry level position at the company. They are also recruiting and will be hiring more interns this summer.

“Greater diversity and inclusion makes our industry stronger and our films and television series better,” Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns told Deadline. “Not only are we creating opportunities for the students in the program, but they in turn are creating opportunities for us to make our workplace more diverse and our storytelling richer and more varied.”

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