EXCLUSIVE: The American Pavilion revealed that Alex McFry and Julie Tjalas are the recipients of the inaugural Colin Higgins Ambassador Scholarship. The American Pavilion founder/director Julie Sisk made the announcement today.
This scholarship is for LGBTQ students and the winners will participate in The American Pavilion’s Worldwide Student Program at the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival.
“These two students are both incredible leaders already, and exemplary examples of perseverance and grace in the face of adversity, it is an honor to welcome them both as the first two Colin Higgins Foundation Ambassadors to the American Pavilion this year,” said Michael Bremer, AmPav’s Director of Student Programs.
McFry’s short film Heads Up is loosely based on his own journey and will make its Cannes debut on the croisette as a part of the American Pavilion’s Emerging Filmmaker Showcase this year. He is from a small-town in Alabama without an arts program and where attending college was a tough financial road. During undergrad at Jacksonville State University, he took a Sociology & Sexuality course which informed his decision to pursue his Masters Degree now at Florida State University. An active member of PFLAG since coming out in High School.
Tjalas, who grew up in a Jehovah’s Witness household, was faced with extraordinary prejudice as a bisexual transgender youth which had kept her closeted for quite some time. Currently at Arizona State University, she is pursuing her degree in film and is the president of Transfam, an advocacy club on campus. With the mindset to make a change for the better, she is working on a “preferred name policy” at ASU, to help other transgender students.
The LGBTQ Humanitarian Foundation is partners with the American Pavilion to support LGBTQ youth and foster inclusive leadership and empowerment. The Colin Higgins Foundation is named after the writer and producer of the cult classic Harold and Maude. He also wrote Silver Streak, wrote and directed Foul Play, 9 to 5 and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The Foundation annually awards the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards for bravery in the face of discrimination, intolerance and bigotry based on sexual orientation and/or gender.