Howard University and Amazon Studios (NASDAQ: AMZN) announced the launch of Howard Entertainment, a program designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other marginalized populations to train and study alongside entertainment executives. The experience will offer students a unique interdisciplinary curriculum, coupled with hands-on work experiences and networking with Amazon’s industry partners. The program will begin in January 2020.
“The vision of Howard Entertainment is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in all aspects of entertainment, from project greenlighting, to PR and marketing, to entertainment law and finance,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. “This relationship aligns with Howard’s strategic goals of enhancing academic excellence and inspiring new knowledge. Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders. With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians and musicians, this next level collaboration will enable us to have even greater impact.”
The Howard Entertainment program is an immersive two semester experience located in Los Angeles, California that offers Howard University students the opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship imbedded in the entertainment industry during the summer semester. The coursework will be applied toward the student’s graduation requirements and the fellowship provides much needed hands-on experience and an opportunity to make invaluable networking connections.
“Amazon Studios has been working to create new pathways into the industry for talented students of all backgrounds and we are proud to team with Howard on this new program supporting aspiring entertainment leaders” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “As we strive to delight our Prime Video customers, we’re ensuring there are diverse perspectives and experiences around the table to help us make the best decisions in all aspects of the business.”
Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studio’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion said: “This program is all about intentionality – being intentional about increasing and preparing the next generation of African American, Latinx and Native American storytellers, casts, crew, and executives working on these projects.”
Students will have to engage in a competitive process to be selected for the program. To qualify, students must be enrolled as a Howard University student, must be an upperclassman or graduate student and will have to complete an application and interview to be considered for the program.
Students will be taught by Howard faculty who will be supported by Amazon Studios employees and other industry professionals invited by Amazon. This model will provide the opportunity for students to be engaged in projects that offer “real world” application and will help students develop “work ready” skills prior to graduating.
Additionally, students will benefit from an innovative application of academic coursework, and also hone entrepreneurial skills through the project-based approach. Participating schools or colleges at the University will provide additional details on the program and competitive application process at future townhall meetings.
The program kickoff is being announced today during Howard University’s Homecoming celebration week. Amazon Studios is the lead sponsor of this year’s Annual Yardfest, the popular concert series, which throughout the years has featured talent such as Drake, Ludacris, Slick Rick and Rick Ross.