Howard University and Lionsgate have joined forces in an effort to tackle Hollywood’s diversity issues. The HBCU and the entertainment company have launched an internship program to teach students the ins and outs of television and film, Deadline reported.
The program—which initially started at UCLA—is designed to build a pipeline of diverse students and open up career pathways for them to enter the industry. During the internship program, six to 12 students will have the opportunity to work across various departments in the company, go on field trips, attend lectures from prominent individuals in the industry and work on their own projects. The effort to bring the program to Howard was led by alumni Sen. Kamala Harris.
The institution’s president Wayne A. I. Frederick says that the internship program will be an integral part of ensuring that the next generation of Hollywood executives is diverse. “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,” Frederick said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “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 Vice Chairman Michael Burns added that students in the program are “creating opportunities for us to make our workplace more diverse and our storytelling richer and more varied.” Both Lionsgate and Howard hope that they can set the example for other HBCUs and entertainment companies to follow suit.
Programs that create career pathways in the entertainment industry for underrepresented groups are needed. According to UCLA’s 2019 Hollywood Diversity Report, people of color make up a mere 7.8 percent of film writers and only 12.6 percent of film directors come from diverse backgrounds.