Actors George Clooney, Kerry Washington and Don Cheadle are joining forces with Los Angeles education officials to open a school to train teens in skills like cinematography, lighting, visual effects and other Hollywood jobs.
The school, due to launch in 2022, is aimed at diversifying the entertainment industry by providing a path to well-paid jobs that have few formal entry ways.
“Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country,” Clooney said in a statement on Monday. “It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer.”
The Roybal School of Film and Television Production will be housed within the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the city’s predominantly Latino Westlake district. Teachers will have access to movie industry professionals, while students will get practical training along with academic programs and internships.
Clooney, Washington, Cheadle, Mindy Kaling, Eva Longoria, and a trio of producers will sit on the board and will cover about 20% of the initial expected budget of about $7 million, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Buetner told the New York Times.
Hollywood has sought to increase the number of people of colour in front of and behind the camera since the #OscarsSoWhite scandal in 2016. Those efforts got a further boost last year when the Black Lives Matter protests fuelled a wider debate about racism in American institutions.
Grant Heslov, Clooney’s producing partner, said efforts to hire more women and people of colour on film sets was being hampered by lack of qualified candidates.
“You want a more diverse crew,” Heslov told the New York Times on Monday, “but there’s just not enough trained people out there.”
The initiative spearheaded by Clooney follows plans announced last week by record producers Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to start a specialised high school in South Los Angeles. The school will not be a music school but will be aimed at encouraging inner city kids to be innovators, start their own businesses, or enter high-tech industries.