In what is being described as an effort to “drive transformational change across the entertainment industry for students from underserved communities,” a coalition of industry leaders spearheaded by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington, Mindy Kaling, Nicole Avant, Eva Longoria, Working Title Films founders Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and CAA co-chairman Bryan Lourd are teaming with Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner to found the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, a specialized academy housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.
The Roybal School is set to launch in fall 2022 as a magnet school, providing LAUSD teachers with access to storytellers, industry professionals and experts, while supporting students with academic education and practical training.
The inaugural program will be overseen by Principal Blanca Cruz. Roybal will feature a curriculum designed to meet standards prescribed by the state of California and the University of California system. Students also will receive real-world experience through a dedicated internship initiative.
The school will launch with grades 9 and 10, and include grades 11 and 12 over the next two years. The pilot program could be expanded later to additional schools throughout the Los Angeles area.
“This effort will help open the doors of opportunity for a diverse group of students from underserved communities,” Beutner said. “This groundbreaking program will help prepare students for good-paying jobs in the film and television industry by integrating practical industry experience and internships for students into the curriculum.”
Beutner explained how industry lessons could be woven into the curriculum: “Physics is involved in the choice of a lens by a cinematographer, math is part of the foundation for a musical score in a film, critical thinking skills are needed to design a set, screenwriters need a foundation in literacy, and a make-up artist needs to know the chemistry of the different materials they might use – all of this will be tied into the curriculum at the school,” he said.
“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country,” Clooney said. “That means starting early. It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer. It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together.”
The founding members will serve on the school’s Production Advisory Board, lending expertise and support with the intent of building a more inclusive pipeline of career-ready talent for the film and television industry, according to the announcement.
Said Avant, “Everyone involved with this effort understands the need to create points of access: access to resources, information, skills, and mentorship. It is our hope that every guild and company across the entertainment industry landscape joins our efforts to build a bridge to opportunity.”
Added Lourd, “We invite every interested and committed person and company in our industry to join this effort. We have the collective power to accelerate the academic and professional trajectories of so many students and bring about positive change.”