Renowned filmmaker David E. Talbert is revolutionizing the film industry establishes HBCU Next At USC School Of Cinematic Arts

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Renowned filmmaker David E. Talbert is revolutionizing the film industry with HBCU Next, a groundbreaking fellowship program.

In Brief
• David E. Talbert, renowned filmmaker, is revolutionizing the film industry with HBCU Next – a groundbreaking fellowship program that seeks to empower and elevate aspiring filmmakers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities
• Two students from Morgan State University have been selected for the inaugural 2023 program, receiving round-trip airfare, full tuition, and housing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles
• Sha-Shonna Rogers (Directing/Producing Fellow) will be enrolled in Filmmaking Intensive, collaborating with fellow filmmakers to create three digital short films; Imani Mullings (Screenwriting Fellow) is mastering Advanced Screenwriting amid a supportive “writers’ room” setting
• HBCU Next not only provides education but also access to opportunities in the industry, intent on dismantling barriers hindering people of Color and expressing authentic stories that have long been overlooked
• The program further features esteemed HBCU graduates such as Forest Whitaker and Ruth Carter as guest speakers

This initiative aims to empower aspiring filmmakers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities by bringing them to the prestigious USC School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program.

Created and funded by Talbert and his producing partner Lyn Sisson-Talbert, HBCU Next seeks to enhance the educational experience for students of Color. Through this program, participants will gain invaluable career insights and develop the creative skills to authentically portray Black experiences and culture in screenwriting, filmmaking, and the ever-evolving media landscape.

Talbert asserts, “Our ultimate goal is to foster cultural exchange and provide an education that opens doors for Black storytellers, enabling them to break into the entertainment industry.” By bridging the gap between HBCUs and USC, HBCU Next enables students to learn from each other’s unique backgrounds and experiences.

Moreover, Talbert understands firsthand the barriers that hinder people of Color from accessing opportunities in the industry. With over 30 years of experience and having graduated from an HBCU, he recognizes that it’s not talent or intelligence but access that hinders progress. HBCU Next was born to dismantle this barrier, offering mentorship from Talbert himself in directing and screenwriting. Additionally, students will have access to advanced courses in screenwriting, directing, animation, producing, editing, and gaming.

Furthermore, HBCU Next plans to host esteemed HBCU graduates as guest speakers, including industry icons such as Forest Whitaker, Tim Story, Ruth Carter, J.B. Smoove, and Anika Noni Rose.

Elizabeth Daley, Dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, expresses her excitement about the transformative journey HBCU Next embarks upon. She believes that the diverse voices and cultural narratives these talented HBCU students bring to USC will shape the industry’s future, making them the trailblazers of tomorrow.

The inaugural participants of the program, Sha-Shonna Rogers as the Directing/Producing Fellow and Imani Mullings as the Screenwriting Fellow, are current students at Morgan State University, Talbert’s alma mater. They have received full scholarships, including round-trip airfare and housing, to attend the USC School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program in Los Angeles in 2023.

With HBCU Next, David E. Talbert is revolutionizing the film industry, empowering aspiring filmmakers to tell authentic stories that have long been overlooked. This program is not just about education; it’s about creating a pipeline for Black storytellers to thrive and reshape the entertainment landscape. The future of filmmaking starts here.

Elizabeth Daley, the Dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA), is thrilled to announce the launch of the HBCU Next program. This groundbreaking initiative aims to empower and elevate the voices of talented students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

To kick off this transformative journey, two outstanding participants have been selected for the program. Sha-Shonna Rogers, a Directing/Producing Fellow, and Imani Mullings, a Screenwriting Fellow, both hail from Morgan State University – the alma mater of Mr. Talbert, renowned filmmaker and advocate of HBCU talent.

Thanks to the generous support of David and Lyn, these exceptional students have been provided with round-trip airfare, full tuition, and housing to attend the 2023 Summer Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts campus in Los Angeles.

As a Directing/Producing Fellow, Rogers is enrolled in the Filmmaking Intensive course. Here, she collaborates with fellow filmmakers in key roles to create three digital short films, exploring the foundational aspects of motion picture production and aesthetics.

Meanwhile, Mullings is mastering the art of Advanced Screenwriting in the “writers’ room” setting. Guided by instructors and peers, she has the unique opportunity to complete the first draft of a full-length feature screenplay in just six weeks.

Reflecting on her experience, Mullings shares, “HBCU Next was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us HBCU students to shine. It has honed my writing skills, allowing me to express myself through storytelling. I am even more excited for my future as a Black storyteller!”

David Weitzner, the Director of the SCA Summer Program, commends the exceptional work created by Rogers and Mullings. He acknowledges HBCU Next as a platform to discover future industry leaders. Weitzner hopes that more partners in the film industry will join in awarding fellowships to HBCU students in the coming years.

Join us in celebrating the HBCU Next program and the remarkable talent emerging from HBCUs as we witness the rise of the next generation of trailblazers in the film industry.

About Mr. Talbert:
HBCU Next is championed by Mr. Talbert, a highly acclaimed filmmaker known for movies like “First Sunday” and “Baggage Claim.” His commitment to supporting HBCU students underscores the program’s dedication to fostering diversity and representation in the film industry.

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