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David E. Talbert Brings His HBCU Next Fellowship To USC School of Cinematic Arts Program

David E. Talbert

Renowned filmmaker David E. Talbert is helping to create the next generation of Black filmmakers through a partnership with USC. Talbert has created his HBCU Next fellowship that will allow aspiring filmmakers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to participate in the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) Summer Program.

Talbert created the fellowship program with his wife and producing partner Lyn Sisson-Talbert to increase educational resources and access in the film industry for Black filmmakers. Talbert is known as the creator of several films including Almost Christmas, Baggage Claim and First Sunday.

“Our overall objective is to foster an environment for students from HBCUs and USC to engage in cultural exchange, learning from one another’s experiences and backgrounds, and to provide access to an education conducive to giving Black storytellers a pipeline to the entertainment industry,” Talbert shared. "The industry gets to benefit from the uniqueness and authenticity of stories that they might not be privy to,” he adds.

Talbert is an HBCU alum who graduated from Morgan State University. In a quote, Talbert spoke about the need to create opportunities that will allow access for Black filmmakers in the film industry saying, "Having graduated from an HBCU, and working in the business for over 30 years, I understand it’s never the artistry or intellect, but the access, that keeps people of Color from finding their way in. HBCU Next was created to bridge that gap. Our Next is now.”

As part of the program, he will be mentoring students in directing and screenwriting. Students will have access to courses in advanced screenwriting, advanced directing, animation, producing editing, and gaming. Talbert also plans to have fellow HBCU graduates speak to the fellows. Some of those alumni include Forest Whitaker, Tim Story, Ruth Carter, J.B. Smoove and Anika Noni Rose.

According to Deadline, the first two fellows selected to participate in the program are Directing/Producing Fellow Sha-Shonna Rogers and Screenwriting Fellow Imani Mullings, who are current students at Morgan State University. Both Rogers and Mullings received round-trip airfare, full tuition, and housing, to attend the 2023 Summer Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts campus in Los Angeles.


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