Today, Howard University and Amazon Studios announced a second year of the Howard Entertainment program, an experience designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for African-American students and other underrepresented populations to train and study alongside entertainment executives. Applications will open Monday, Sept. 28, with the program set to restart in January 2021, with increased slots available for current Howard students.
“The continuation of Howard Entertainment is a testament to the immediate impact of the program and the resonance of its long-term vision to strive for greater representation across the industry,” said Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA. “At Howard, we are always seeking to expand the education of our students by connecting them to experiences that will prepare them to succeed and make a difference. Considering the size and importance of the entertainment industry, I am excited to see our students become leaders in this space. Whether they pursue paths in front of the camera or behind the scenes, Howard Entertainment aims to broaden the range and inclusivity of Hollywood story-telling through the fresh new voices of talent from underrepresented communities.”
“After a great experience this year, we are thrilled to not only continue but to expand the Howard Entertainment program for 2021,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “The Howard Entertainment program is one of the ways Amazon Studios is creating new diverse pipeline programs in the entertainment industry for talented students and for employees. We are committed to making Amazon Studios a place where new voices with fresh perspectives are heard and valued, both on and off screen. We know these programs will benefit our industry as a whole in the future.”
“We had extremely high expectations for the Howard Entertainment program and even still, our first cohort surpassed them all. The Howard students were insightful and engaged us in a way that allowed for two-way learning. Their contributions had an enormous impact across every department at Amazon Studios as well as with partners like UTA,” said Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studios Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “We’re happy to work with Howard again and to open up the program to even more talented students this year.”
“This program allows me to be a part of the movement to end the gatekeeping of this industry so that one day, a little Black or Brown girl can look at me and say to herself, ‘I can do that too,’” said Jasmine Oshiyemi, marketing major, fellow, 2020 Howard Entertainment program.
The Howard Entertainment program is an immersive, two semester experience that offers Howard University students the opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in a fellowship in the entertainment industry during the summer semester. The coursework is applied toward the students’ graduation requirements and the fellowship provides much needed hands-on experience and an opportunity to make invaluable networking connections. Guest lecturers for the 2020 cohort included industry notables and Howard alumni, including actress Susan Kelechi Watson; Jeron Smith, CEO and Co-Founder, Unanimous Media; actress Ashley Blaine Featherson; and Charles and Stacy King, the CEO and Chief Brand Officer, and Co-Founders, MACRO.
For 2021, the spring semester (Jan.-May) will be virtual; summer internships may be virtual or in-person, pending COVID-19 restrictions and local regulations. All fellows in the 2021 Howard Entertainment program will have their tuition fully covered by Amazon Studios and Howard University.
In its first year, feedback from Howard students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. Students had opportunities to learn about and gain experience in all aspects of entertainment, including development, casting, marketing, production, business affairs, and music.
“As a Black Entertainer, I understand the value and comfort of having people like me engrained in the purposeful action of protecting Black storytellers, and this program opened the door for me to do so,” said Drew Emerson, J.D./MBA Candidate, fellow, 2020 Howard Entertainment program.
To qualify, students must be enrolled as a Howard University student, as an upperclassman or graduate student. Prospective participants must 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.