The American Film Institute announced an annual scholarship to producers from communities that are underrepresented in the entertainment industry.
On Friday, AFI established the Thomas P. Pollock Endowed Scholarship Fund, named after and in memory of the institute’s chair emeritus Thomas Pollock, who died in August. The fund was established in collaboration with members of Pollock’s family.
“Tom championed AFI and the power of great stories — and he believed in the mission of the Conservatory to inspire and educate diverse voices,” said Kathleen Kennedy, chair of the AFI Board of Trustees, in a statement. “Through this endowed scholarship fund, made possible by the goodwill and admiration he created during his lifetime, his legacy will live on in the next generation of storytellers.”
The first fellows to be honored with the scholarship are Nagee Brown and Haley Beasley.
Brown said the animated show “Static Shock” encouraged him to become a producer, as it introduced him to a Black superhero for the first time. He has found mentorship among multiple AFI alumni ahead of joining as part of the class of 2022.
Beasley, also in the class of 2022, hopes to explore how storytelling platforms like literature, dance and film are interconnected. Using this information, she will work on next-level combinations that offer more interactive storytelling experiences.
“The drive to tell my own stories is no longer as important as the need to create content for people like me,” she said. “For my siblings. For black women. For marginalized communities who have grown tired of waiting for things to change in their favor.”