Founding Members Include AFI Alumni Marshall Herskovitz, Deniese Davis, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon & More

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, May 3, 2021 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the newly formed AFI Alumni Council, an advisory group of AFI Alumni that will guide career development and community engagement for AFI Alumni and provide leadership to galvanize AFI filmmakers across the industry to work together to affect change. The establishment of the Alumni Council is yet another step in improving the post-graduate experience for AFI Alumni by the recently funded Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center (LHAC).

“We are so grateful for the extraordinary vision, commitment and sense of pride that this group of Alumni have for their fellow AFI filmmakers and the future of the art form,” said Susan Ruskin, Dean, AFI Conservatory and Executive Vice President of AFI. “We look forward to the impact that their advocacy will certainly have on our alumni community.”

The founding AFI Alumni Council members are: Marshall Herskovitz (Chair, AFI Class of 1975, BLOOD DIAMOND, TRAFFIC), Deniese Davis (AFI Class of 2012, A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW, INSECURE), Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (AFI Class of 1995, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL), Mel Jones (AFI Class of 2010, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, REALLY LOVE), Unjoo Moon (AFI Class of 1998, I AM WOMAN, THE ZEN OF BENNETT), Brian Udovich (AFI Class of 2004, DIMENSION 404, THE WACKNESS) and Ford Motor Co. Global Brand Entertainment head Alessandro Uzielli (AFI Class of 1989, CASINO ROYALE, MEN IN BLACK 3).

“The driving force at the AFI Conservatory has always been the sense of community and the power of collaboration. That philosophy is what makes AFI and its alumni stand out,” said Marshall Herskovitz, Founding Chair of the AFI Alumni Council. “I’m honored to be working with the peerless talent on this Alumni Council to foster that same sense of community and support for all alumni who are succeeding in telling their stories beyond the halls of AFI.”

The Council is the latest in a series of advancements from the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center, whose programs provide career development resources, engage AFI’s powerful network of mentors and champion the ongoing global accomplishments of AFI alumni. In addition to advising LHAC on programming priorities, the Council will support the Bridge to the Future Initiative which connects recent graduates with career opportunities in film, television, streaming and new media, creating new pathways for AFI filmmakers to share their stories.


About the AFI Conservatory

The AFI Conservatory opened its doors in 1969 to an inaugural class that included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. Today, the Conservatory offers a two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. In a collaborative production environment, AFI Fellows learn to master the art of storytelling, collectively creating up to 175 films a year. Fellows actively participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition.

Alumni of this elite program, ranging from modern masters to bold new voices defining the state of the art form include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Ari Aster, Sam Esmail, Brad Falchuk, Liz Hannah, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas, Polly Morgan, Rachel Morrison and Wally Pfister, among others.

About the AFI Conservatory Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center

The Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center (LHAC) was established in 2020 through a leadership gift by AFI Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert, who joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1987 and served until 2017. Located on the AFI Campus in Los Angeles, LHAC ensures AFI alumni have every opportunity to continue their successes into the future. The center provides career development resources for AFI alumni, engages AFI’s powerful network of mentors to support alumni and champions the ongoing global accomplishments of AFI alumni.


About the American Film Institute (AFI)

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,, and





For general AFI press inquiries