Featured Photo Via Twitter
The classic African-American film director and industry icon Spike Lee has announced the commencement of a new fellowship program for three institutes of higher education in Georgia. In partnership with Gersh, Lee will supervise, fund, and personally help train a new cohort of future filmmakers who will contribute to create a more diverse Hollywood.
Shelton ‘Spike’ Lee was born in 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia. After attending high school in Brooklyn, Lee returned home to graduate from Morehouse College in 1979, during which time he also took some classes at Clark Atlanta University.
Both Lee’s father and grandfather also graduated from Morehouse, while his mother and grandmother went to Spelman College. In November, Lee and his wife Tonya Lewis Lee joined the Spelman College President Dr. Helene Gayle on the occasion of renaming the College’s Admissions Office to honor the celebrity’s mother, Jacquelyn Shelton Lee, and grandmother, Zimmie Reatha Shelton, both of whom graduated from Spelman in 1929 and 1954 respectively.
This month, Lee announced the debut of a scholarship program known as ‘Spike Fellows Program’. The Program will include student loan debt relief, entertainment industry mentorship, post-graduate internships and full-time employment, all provided by Lee’s agency Gersh. Five students from three Georgia colleges will comprise the initial batch of students to benefit from the long-term program. The three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) selected, Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta University, are collectively known as the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC).
The program aims to express gratitude, in Lee’s words, through “Deeds, not words.” Gersh’s head of culture Jayson Council, who will lead the Spike Fellows Program, released the following personal statement:-
“I joined Gersh to lead the charge in identifying powerful opportunities and signature moments to advance cultural competence and accelerate social impact. As an HBCU graduate, I am extremely proud of Gersh and Spike for their commitment to growing opportunities for AUCC graduates.”
Gersh senior managing partner Leslie Siebert said: “As industry leaders, we’ve always taken seriously the responsibility to build a more diverse, dynamic ecosystem in which people of all ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences can thrive.” He also thanked Spike Lee for his part in proposing and participating in the program.
The story was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.