Diversity in Film Gets a Big Boost

March 15, 2016 Ryan Gilmour

The George Lucas Family Foundation is helping Hollywood more broadly reflect society by spurring the creative spark of budding storytellers at USC.

A $10 million endowment from the foundation will help recruit talented USC School of Cinematic Arts students from communities underrepresented in the entertainment industry. It’s the largest single donation for student support in the school’s history. The gift will establish The George Lucas Family Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity, which will give priority consideration for financial support to African American and Hispanic students at the School of Cinematic Arts.

Funds will be split equally between male and female students. Recipients will be known as George Lucas Scholars or Mellody Hobson Scholars. Lucas ’66, a pioneering writer, director and producer, is married to Hobson, president of Chicago-based money management firm Ariel Investments. As African Americans and Latinos are particularly underrepresented in the industry, Lucas says, undergraduates and graduates from these groups will receive priority consideration. “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,” Lucas says. The endowment adds to growing momentum behind funding for scholarships and other forms of student support at the School of Cinematic Arts. These gifts further USC’s goal of offering all qualified students the opportunity to attend, regardless of their financial circumstances.

They also support the Campaign for USC, an effort to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. More than four years after its launch, the campaign has raised nearly $4.8 billion.