Spike Lee Image Credit: ShutterStock

Spike Lee Announces the Inaugural Class of New Film Program


Spike Lee recently announced the first class of the new Spike Fellows at Gersh Program. 

Chosen alongside The Gersh Agency, five new fellows will take part in the newly created program. According to a report by Hollywood Reporter, students Tai Livingston (Spelman College), Jalen Ellis (Morehouse College), Quentin Anderson (Morehouse College), Shayna Cartledge (Clark Atlanta University) and Halle Jones (Clark Atlanta University) will all be part of the program designed to help undergraduates who want a career in entertainment. 

Set to start on June 12, the program will last for eight weeks. Through a paid experience, the Spike Fellows at Gersh Program will have the five students learn from people with senior-level positions in the entertainment world and will have them participate in volunteer service projects. At the end of the program, each student will be given $25,000 to pay for academic debt relief. Each member of this inaugural class will also be given full-time employment starting from Sept. 5, 2024. 

While the participants were just announced, the Spike Fellows Program itself was first announced in January of this year.

 “It is with great honor, privilege, and excitement to announce the Spike Fellows in association with my partners The Gersh Agency and the AUCC,” said Lee in a press release first published in January upon the announcement of the program. “From the jump, from the get-go, I knew when (not if) 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 himself graduated from an HBCU that is part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. In 1979, the acclaimed director graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Morehouse College. At the HBCU, he made his first student film, Last Hustle in Brooklyn, while he also took film classes at Clark Atlanta University.

After releasing the critically acclaimed She’s Gotta Have It, Lee cemented his place in film history with Do The Right Thing, a film that is now preserved by the National Film Registry. 

Throughout his 37-year career, Lee has won numerous accolades, including two Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards and an Honorary Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement. 

In the release announcing the new Spike Fellows program, the director accredited HBCUs as part of the reason behind his success. 

“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,” said Lee. “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,’” he added. 

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