AUC Graduate Spike Lee honors vow of, “bringing as many Black and Brown folks with me in front and behind the camera.”
Atlanta – Filmmaker Spike Lee and the Gersh Agency have announced the creation of the Spike Fellows Program, a fellowship to support undergraduate students at the Atlanta University Center Consortium, of Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College, with an interest in the film industry. The program is based on the principle that access plus exposure will create opportunities.
A proud “Morehouse Man” (Class of ’79), Lee received his B.A. in Mass Communication and took classes at Clark College as well as at Spelman College. “It is with great honor, privilege, and excitement to announce the Spike Fellows in association with my partners The Gersh Agency and the AUCC. 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,” said Lee.
“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. 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,’ Lee added.
Like Lee, Gersh has a long history of supporting social issues, both as an agency and in support of its clients. “As industry leaders, we’ve always taken seriously the responsibility to build a more diverse, dynamic ecosystem in which people of all ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences can thrive,” says Gersh Senior Managing Partner, Leslie Siebert. “We are honored that Spike has chosen us to be his inaugural partner, and we are proud to welcome the five inaugural Spike Fellows into our organization.”
The inaugural class of Spike Fellows will consist of five graduating students from AUCC who will receive academic debt relief, industry mentorship, post graduate internships, and full-time employment, all provided by Gersh.
“This fellowship will provide invaluable experience and mentorship for our students desiring impact in the entertainment industry, both in front and behind the camera, said Dr. Michael Hodge, Executive Director of the of AUCC. “We are pleased and grateful to AUCC alum, Spike Lee and the Gersh Agency for providing these outstanding opportunities for aspiring entertainment leaders.”
Jayson Council, Head of Culture at Gersh, will lead the fellowship program. “I joined Gersh to lead the charge in identifying powerful opportunities and signature moments to advance cultural competence and accelerate social impact. As a HBCU graduate, I am extremely proud of Gersh and Spike for their commitment to growing opportunities for AUCC graduates.”
The fellowship program will begin in January 2023 with five fellows selected by a panel including Spike Lee, the AUCC campus community, and Gersh management with an online application being distributed to students in late January. Having made a multi-year commitment, Lee and Gersh intend to expand the program in the future with additional resources and fellows.
About the AUCC
The Atlanta University Center Consortium, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation under the laws of the State of Georgia, formed in 1929 to operate on behalf of its member institutions–Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College—is the world’s oldest and largest association of historically Black colleges and universities. The Consortium is a vibrant intellectual community with a long tradition of scholarship, service, and community engagement.
Teresa D. Southern
Manager of Communications, Events & Marketing
Atlanta University Center Consortium