By Zsana Hoskins,
Special to the AFRO

This summer, three students had the opportunity to experience different aspects of the entertainment industry at the NAACP Hollywood Bureau. The NAACP Hollywood Bureau promotes industry diversity through several initiatives, including directing and writing programs, fellowships and more.

Each intern found this opportunity through HBCU in LA, a program that assists students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) interested in the entertainment industry with finding an internship. The program also provides housing and professional development opportunities. 

One aspect of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau internship is a dual-company program where interns take on two part-time roles throughout the summer—one with NAACP and one with another local company.

Andre Wilkes, a Howard University alumni, found both of his internships to be impactful to his career journey.

“I got a full fledged boot camp on production, and then I got a public relations and talent management boot camp with Sunshine Sachs. I saw the practical ways and tangible processes of running award shows, being a publicist for talent, and being a publicist in a time like this where the strikes not only affect your talent’s work, but your work is now limited,” Wilkes spoke about his experience working with both the NAACP Hollywood Bureau and Sunshine Sachs, an Los Angeles based PR Firm.

Julien Johnson, another NAACP intern, completed another internship with ABC 7 as a sports news intern.

“I get to go to different sports games like the Dodgers game. I went to the Lakers’ practice facility. I’ve been to the Rams training camp. I really just get to shadow the reporters and sometimes I get to ask some questions to the athletes, coaches, and managers,” Johnson said about his experience. 

Chandler Robinson, a rising junior at Howard University who also participated in the internship program, worked with Front Page PR for her second internship this summer.

Chandler Robinson attending the 114th NAACP National Convention. The first NAACP Convention, which was called the National NEgro Conference at the time, took place in New York City in 1909. (Photo courtesy of Chandler Robinson)

“I work with Front Page PR, a public relations firm based out of LA as well. It’s a lot of contacting and maintaining coverage for clients,” said the TV and film major.

The NAACP Hollywood Bureau partners with several companies such as Disney, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and more to provide students with the opportunity to begin their careers in entertainment.

Less than 6 percent of writers, directors and producers of films produced in the United States are Black, according to a study conducted by the McKinsey Institute in 2021. So Black representation in entertainment can often be hard to come by. 

Throughout their internships, Wilkes, Johnson and Robinson not only learned vital skills necessary for their futures but connected with industry veterans and other Black students. 

“It’s a nice opportunity to just learn and get in the industry. It’s like getting a leg up in a way, especially for people like us who come from HBCUs. It’s harder for us to get into these positions so I’m grateful to HBCU in LA for giving us these opportunities to be a part of these companies and make an impact at such a young age,” Johnson said.

Robinson enjoyed meeting students with similar values and goals. 

“Entering into this as a sophomore, this was my first time being on the west coast. I’ve learned a lot about myself and grown a lot as a person. As far as knowledge within the entertainment space, I’ve learned even more than I would’ve been able to within my courses. All of my internship experience prior to this was virtual because of COVID. I never got to fully interact with an office,” said Robinson. “Just meeting people and finding like-minded individuals. It’s really difficult, especially being from a small town, to find people who validate your experience.’

Wilkes was able to gain hands-on experience with entertainment social justice as the Writers Guild of America (WAG) and the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) are currently on strike. WAG began striking in May and SAG-AFTRA followed soon after in July. The strike is mainly due to low wages and the lack of rights and protection from new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and streaming services, and Wilkes joined strikers on the front lines.

“I really did learn what that intersection of social impact and entertainment looks like. Coming into my professional career, I was looking for the crossroads of social entrepreneurship and entertainment, and I not only learned what that intersection looks like, but I learned at a time where the most pressure is being put right at the intersection. So it’s forcing the people who lie at that intersection to act quickly,” Wilkes said.

Jacob Choza (left), sports news intern at ABC 7, and Julien Johnson at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The 70.000 seat stadium is home to the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, making Los Angeles one of two cities to have two NFL teams. (Photo courtesy of Julien Johnson)

The interns also helped with the 114th National NAACP Convention which took place in Boston from July 28 on August 1. Wilkes, Johnson, and Robinson each had different yet crucial roles in the overall event.

While Wilkes focused on production and Johnson focused on capturing content for social media, Robinson assist with public relations matters.

“I’ve learned a lot about the industry as far as interacting with publicists and marketing, as well as production. I’ve learned about escorting and briefing talent. I got to work with a few celebrities which was pretty cool. It was nice to meet those people, have genuine conversations, and network,” Robinson said.

According to Statistica, the media and entertainment industry in the United States recorded over 4 million employees last year. As the industry continues to grow, Wilkes, Johnson, and Robinson want to continue making an impact in the entertainment industry. 

“I always knew I liked all of the lights, camera, and action and the celebrity-esque lifestyle–I just knew I didn’t want to be the celebrity. So because I knew I didn’t want to be the talent, I shied away from it. But I didn’t know the ways I could harness this realm for what I want to do which is helping people and pushing policy. The internship gave me a step-by-step plan on how to integrate the two,” Wilkes expressed.

Johnson has several interests in the industry and was able to learn more about them through this internship program. 

“This is where I want to be—sports, entertainment, news in general. This has really helped me gain more insight on done of the things that I would be doing. It’s helped me realize things I like and things I don’t like,” the Milwaukee native said.

Robinson plans on working her way up to eventually working in television and film.

“I never saw myself as someone who just stayed in one route. Marketing and public relations is what I’m most familiar with so I assumed I would start here. But I do see myself moving into other lanes of entertainment. Even though I’m not in a film-related internship, I’m learning everything that I wouldn’t learn in my coursework at Howard hands-on with actual experience,” Robinson said. 

Along with internship programs, the NAACP Hollywood Bureau also offers the NAACP Diversity Fellowship Program and Media Diversity Executive Leadership Programs. The organization also partners with other organizations that focus on bringing opportunities to students of color, such as the Emma Bowen Foundation Minorities in Broadcasting Training Program, and more.

To learn more about these initiatives and programs, follow @hollywoodbureau on Instagram or visit