Intensive program developed to create opportunities in the entertainment industry for emerging executives from Howard University
Amazon Studios and Howard University announced on Oct 1 that they will continue the Howard Entertainment program, an initiative designed to diversify the entertainment industry by creating a pipeline for Black and other underrepresented students, now in its third year. The Howard Entertainment program was announced in 2019 to help create opportunities for historically excluded students to train and study alongside entertainment executives. Applications open on October 1, 2021, and the program will begin on January 10, 2022.
Howard Entertainment is an immersive, two semester program that offers Howard University students the opportunity to take academic courses related to the business of entertainment during the spring semester and participate in an internship in the entertainment industry during the summer semester. The coursework is applied toward the students’ graduation requirements and the internship provides hands-on experience and an opportunity to make networking connections. Both semesters include immersive experiences to understand the real work of entertainment industry executives. Student disciplines include Film & TV, PR, Business (marketing), Law, Fine Arts, along with the new additions of Theatre Arts Admin, Theatre Tech and Music Business.
In 2021, Howard Entertainment Program launched the Howard faculty externship program with the goal to provide hands-on experience that the professors can then take back to their classrooms. Faculty were placed with Amazon Studios teams including casting, development, PR, strategy, and unscripted to further broaden and expand their expertise in their respective disciplines.
“Over the past two years, we have made great strides with our initiatives to create new diverse pipeline programs in the entertainment industry,” said Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios. “As we enter our third year, we are more committed than ever to helping new voices join the conversation and continuing to mentor our Howard Entertainment students. We know these programs will benefit our industry as a whole and create future leaders.”
“As an industry, we have a responsibility to create opportunities and foster new voices across all disciplines. Together with Howard University, we are able to put action behind our words ."
Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studios Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion said, “As an industry, we have a responsibility to create opportunities and foster new voices across all disciplines. Together with Howard University, we are able to put action behind our words and help the next generation of aspiring industry leaders forge a pathway to the future. It’s both rewarding and exciting to empower the next generation of leaders as they begin their careers in entertainment."
Last year, the program featured guest lecturers including showrunner Anthony Sparks, actress and writer Ashleigh Hairston, actress Michael Hyatt, producer Logan Coles, actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, writer Christina Hamm and writer James Tyler. Additional highlights from cohort 2 included externship placements with Amazon partners such as Viola Davis’ JuVee, Tracy Oliver’s Tracy Yvonne Productions (TYP), Rachel Brosnahan’s Scrap Paper Pictures, and Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions.
Responses from the 2021 cohort were overwhelmingly positive, with students praising the valuable experience they gained across all fields of entertainment. “Howard Entertainment has laid the foundation for my career in entertainment and has allowed me to positively envision myself and my ideas within an industry I previously thought had no space for me,” said 2021 Howard Entertainment program fellow Kai Hartman.
Past participants of the Howard Entertainment cohorts have gone on to secure jobs at such companies as Gravillis, UTA and Warner Bros.
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.