In October 2019, Howard University and Amazon Studios partnered launched the Howard Entertainment Program which serves as a pipeline for African American students and other underrepresented populations to train and study alongside entertainment executives. This program is specifically designed to prepare such students for careers in the entertainment industries. This program is very timely given that while minorities will soon be the majority (at least in America), they continue to be underrepresented in Hollywood both behind and in front of the screens and underrepresented populations are increasingly demanding content that speaks to them. In addition, people of color only make up about 20% of film leads and a mere 8% of screenwriters. Beyond failing to reflect the country’s ethnic makeup, this lack of diversity is surprising given that film diversity helps drive box office success. So, closing this gap is not only the “right” thing to do but is financially smart.
With this in mind, Howard Entertainment hosted eight undergraduate students in their junior year from the Communications (Film &TV Production), Business (Marketing) and Fine Arts (Writing) disciplines and three, second-year law students in Los Angeles for an intensive, two-semester accredited program. “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”