They’re getting the opportunity of a lifetime!
In January, Spike Lee announced his partnership with The Gersh Agency to create a fellowship opportunity for young up-and-coming filmmakers. Teaming up with the renowned talent firm and the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC), Lee was able to gauge potential talent from 3 different HBCUs: Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta University.
“It is with great honor, privilege, and excitement to announce the Spike Fellows in association with my partners The Gersh Agency and the AUCC. From the jump, from the get-go, I knew when I opened a crack in the door, I was bringing as many Black and brown folks with me in front and behind the camera,” Lee previously said via statement.
Now he has chosen his inaugural class of “Spike Fellows,” announcing a collective of 5 undergraduate students from the AUCC. According to The Hollywood Reporter Quentin Anderson (Morehouse College), Tai Livingston (Spelman College), Jalen Ellis (Morehouse Colleges), Shayna Cartledge (Clark Atlanta University), and Halle Jones (Clark Atlanta University) have all been chosen for the Spike Fellows at Gersh Program. They will all participate in an eight-week paid fellowship that allows them to learn from various sectors of the film industry while receiving senior-level mentorship from industry experts.
Each fellow was chosen based on a variety of criteria including GPA, leadership skills, school engagement, creative work and professional recommendations. The fellows will be split up with 2 of them participating in New York, and 3 of them headed to Los Angeles for the two month program. They will be responsible for completing off site learning, volunteer service initiatives, and will receive $25,000 in academic debt relief at the completion. The program will be run by Jayson Council, head of culture at Gersh. In addition to the two month program, the agency will also offer on campus programming throughout the school year to continue to create access and opportunities yearlong.
“When creating transformative legacy oriented opportunities like the Spike Fellows, it’s critical to focus on non-transactional partnerships deeply rooted in respect and sustainable impact,” said Council.
An alum of Morehouse College, Lee personally called the fellows himself, reflecting on his history and time at the AUCC, calling this a full circle moment for him.
“I know firsthand the education one receives at a Historically Black College and University. I am who I am because of my grandmother [Zimmie Jackson] and my mother [Jacquelyn Shelton Lee] who both graduated from Spelman College. I am who I am because of my grandfather [Richard Jackson Shelton] and my father [William Lee] who both graduated from Morehouse. It’s on the campuses of Spelman and Morehouse where they met, fell in love and got married. As my elders often told me, ‘Deeds not words’…At Morehouse, Spelman and Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) is where my path to being a filmmaker started. I’m thrilled that The Gersh agency and I have hooked up to get five serious graduates from these mentioned schools into the film business,” said Lee.
The Spike Lee Fellowship program begins on June 12, 2023 for participants. They will receive full-time employment starting on September 5, 2024.
SHO-NUFF Uncle Spike!
Cover photo: Spike Lee & The Gersh Agency announce inaugural class of “Spike Fellows”/Photo Courtesy of The Gersh Agency/The Hollywood Reporter