Variety, African American Film Critics Association and LACES Launch Micheaux Project Outreach Program

Variety African American Film Critics Association Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies
Courtesy of Variety/African American Film Critics Association/Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies

Variety, the African American Film Critics Association and the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies have partnered to create the Micheaux Project, an outreach program aimed at encouraging high school students from underrepresented communities to consider careers as entertainment journalists and critics.

Inspired by WriteGirl/BoldInk’s successful workshops and mentorship programs, the Micheaux Project will bring professional entertainment writers, editors and critics to LACES, a Los Angeles Unified School District magnet school for grades 6-12, to expose students to career paths they may never have considered. Topics discussed will include how to do an interview, work a red carpet, write a news story, shoot and edit multimedia packages, find your voice as a critic and other practical aspects of entertainment journalism. The eight-week program, led by Variety’s David Cohen, stresses hands-on work in small groups, with journalists as peers and mentors, not teachers giving lectures.

“With the Micheaux Project, we have a program that the entire newsroom can support and our reporters and editors have already started stepping up to participate,” said Variety executive editor and vice president Steven Gaydos. “We all want to make sure that the future of our industry is more inclusive, and that means both gathering talent today and planting the seeds for tomorrow.”

The Micheaux Project is open to all LACES students in grades 10-12, but is geared toward underrepresented groups, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students. The program is named after pioneering Black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, whose business ventures and 31-year directing career were covered in Variety.

“The African American Film Critics Association is thrilled to collaborate with Variety on the Micheaux Project. Providing next-gen journalists with the exposure, encouragement, tools and resources to build sustainable careers in entertainment media is very central to AAFCA’s goals,” said Gil Robertson IV, president and co-founder of the AAFCA and an alumnus of LACES’ first graduating class. “We applaud Variety for sharing this vision and look forward to executing the program that we’ve jointly created to further the development of the participating students.”

The Micheaux Project will launch as a live online program for fall 2020 and aims to move to in-person workshops once students and faculty return to schools. Variety and AAFCA are hoping to work with other publications and organizations, and expanding the project to more schools in the future.

“My staff and I are very excited to partner with Variety and AAFCA for the Micheaux Project,” said Kimberly Lesure, LACES principal. “One of our goals as LACES Unicorns is giving back to our community, so to work with alumni is always special. I appreciate the opportunity it will afford my students to explore beyond more traditional careers and consider new pathways. I look forward to seeing their passions ignited.”