It is an annual event, but it maintains the thrill of a blockbuster.
Celebrities, executives and students gathered in a posh ballroom to celebrate women entertainment executives and mentorship. After several moving speeches, and presentations, the ceremony took a serious turn: Six young women in the Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, an initiative of The Hollywood Reporter, received full-ride scholarships to Loyola Marymount University.
The scholarships are life-changing. This year, a special scholarship – the Black Panther Scholarship, created by Walt Disney Studios – was presented by the cast of the blockbuster movie.
“All of the young women who are part of the Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program are impressive,” said Peggy Rajski, Dean of LMU’s School of Film and Television. “Many of them will be the first in their family to attend college, and I’m always moved by their stories and fortified by their courage and resilience.”
The scholarships were awarded to L.A. teens from underserved communities who are currently taking part in the mentorship program. Each of the 18 young women who finishes her mentorship year receives a $10,000 scholarship to attend the university of her choice; six young women receive full-ride scholarships worth more than $250,000 each to attend LMU, a longtime partner in the program. The program, now in its ninth year, is executed in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, and more than $6 million in scholarship money has been raised.
“We’re incredibly proud of ours and the entertainment community’s allegiance to these kinds of life-changing opportunities,” said Rajski.
“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira were on hand at the star-studded gala to present the new scholarship.
“We know that if we want to live in a world that looks more like Wakanda, the first step is you invest in women and girls,” said Gurira, who received a loud round of applause from the audience, The Hollywood Reporter recounted.
This year’s contributing donors to scholarships include producer Chuck Lorre, entrepreneur and inventor Lori Grenier, film studios Lionsgate and Disney, and social media giant Twitter.
“One of the best parts of being dean is helping young women like these attend our program,” said Rajski, “And it’s extremely gratifying to know our university is committed to partnering with WIE and providing the balance of funds needed for full-ride scholarships here.”
The additional $10,000 scholarships are co-funded by Lifetime and Entertainment Industry Foundation. American Airlines gifted each graduating mentee 50,000 frequent-flyer miles to help them with travel from their hometowns to their future universities, while SAG-AFTRA also gifted mentees with backpacks filled with supplies to help set them up for success when they head to college.
The Power 100 Women in Entertainment Event Presented by Lifetime was sponsored by American Airlines, Cadillac, Fiji Water, eOne, Gersh, Loyola Marymount University and SAG-AFTRA, in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and Entertainment Industry Foundation.