Billionaire George Lucas donates $10M to recruit young padawans to filmmaking
American film maker, producer, writer and creator of Star Wars, billionaire George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson, through the George Lucas Family Foundation, are donating $10 million to George Lucas' alma mater - the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
George Lucas graduated from University of Southern California in 1967 before embarking on his career in the film industry.
The fund will be use to recruit and provide financial support to African American and Hispanic students in an effort to bolster diversity in the entertainment industry.
CBS News reports that the fund will go towards paying school fees of both undergraduate and graduate students of the school. The fund is named," The George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity."
"Hispanic and African-American storytellers are underrepresented in the entertainment industry" and " It is Mellody's and my privilege to provide this assistance to qualified students who want to contribute their unique experience and talent to telling their stories", Lucas said in a statement.
For USC President CL Max Nikias, both George and his wife Melody Hobson are "inspiring leaders in their fields and tremendous friends of the USC community". "This gift will nurture the next generation of artists, supporting scholarships that enhance access in the cinematic arts, while bringing new and diverse voices and stories into our lives", he said.
Foxla stated Elizabeth Daley, the dean of the film school, was so grateful for their continued support of the School of Cinematic Arts. She viewed the donation as a recognition of the need to encourage the Hispanic and African-American storytellers of tomorrow.
The grants to the endowment are expected to be given out starting in August 2016. It will be given out in equal numbers to both male and female students. The male and female recipients will be known as "George Lucas Scholars" and "Mellody Hobson Scholars", respectively.
Other reports including that from Urban Intellectuals Media say that George Lucas made this donation amid backlash from certain quarters complaining of having too many black and coloured actors in his film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".
The film's trailer premiered recently, but the backlash was unfounded in view of the fact that the fictional series always had black lead characters.
The gift has been described as the single largest donation for student support in the history of USC meanwhile Lucas had also made a donation to the tune of $175mil back in 2006 for re-building USC's cinematic school according to sources.