By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer,

Howard University has made a name for itself as one of the premiere developers of entertainers and broadcasters who have ascended to the peak of their industry.  Now the school has partnered with Amazon Studios to launch Howard Entertainment, an innovative new program designed to diversify the pipeline for talent across the entertainment industry which is scheduled to start in January 2020.

“The vision of Howard Entertainment is to offer a one-of-a-kind experience for students interested in all aspects of entertainment, from project greenlighting to PR and marketing, to entertainment law and finance,” said Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a statement.  “With Howard’s proven track record of developing some of Hollywood’s most notable actors, comedians, and musicians, this next-level collaboration will enable us to have an even greater impact.”

Howard University is partnering with Amazon Studios for an LA-Based Entertainment Program. (Courtesy Photo)

The Howard Entertainment program expects to blend academic and practical experience for students  in Los Angeles, Calif. It promises to offer them an opportunity to take academic courses during the spring semester and participate in an entertainment industry fellowship during the summer coursework.

“Amazon Studios has been working to create new pathways into the industry for talented students of all backgrounds and we are proud to team with Howard on this new program supporting aspiring entertainment leaders,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios. “As we strive to delight our Prime Video customers, we’re ensuring there are diverse perspectives and experiences around the table to help us make the best decisions in all aspects of the business.”

Howard Entertainment is a unique program that is being constructed to give its students the chance to be engaged in projects that offer “real world” opportunities to experience the aspects of becoming independent media executives and producers. It expects to help students develop “work ready” skills before graduating, while networking in the shadows of Hollywood with decision makers and artists.

“This program is all about intentionality – being intentional about increasing and preparing the next generation of African-American, Latino and Native American storytellers, casts, crews, and executives working on these projects,” said Latasha Gillespie, Amazon Studio’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Those selected for the program will benefit from a combination of academic courses and entrepreneurial skills development through a project-based approach to development. The coursework will be applied toward the student’s graduation requirements and the fellowship will augment their  hands-on experience, while providing opportunities to connect with media executives through networking.

“Collaborating with Amazon Studios will enable us to marry academia and industry efforts to build a robust workforce of diverse entertainment industry leaders,” Dr. Frederick adds.