MICHELLE YEOH AND LAWRENCE HERBERT RECEIVE HONORARY DEGREES AT AFI CONSERVATORY COMMENCEMENT – American Film Institute

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MICHELLE YEOH AND LAWRENCE HERBERT RECEIVE HONORARY DEGREES AT AFI CONSERVATORY COMMENCEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 13, 2022, Los Angeles, CA – Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) conferred a Doctorate of Fine Arts degree honoris causa for contributions of distinction to the art of the moving image upon Michelle Yeoh, who is the first Asian artist to receive the AFI honor; and a Doctorate of Communication Arts degree honoris causa upon AFI Trustee Emeritus Lawrence Herbert for his commitment to the mission of the American Film Institute. Yeoh and Herbert were recognized during the AFI Conservatory’s commencement ceremony celebrating the Class of 2022 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

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Welcoming the honored guests, graduates, friends and family, AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale recalled the incredible legacy of the theater and how the Class of 2022 is now part of the storied building – and on the precipice of creating their own history. Reflecting on the “incredibly powerful, often unspoken nature” of what filmmakers do, Gazzale said, “You gather us together. You are a healing force. You are a catalyst for empathy, which is one of the rarest commodities in the world today.”

In congratulating the graduates for their dedication to the rigorous two-year Master of Fine Arts program, Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and Executive Vice President of AFI, spoke about the surprises, wonder and awe awaiting them in their careers and said, “You define the stories you want to tell, and they also help to define you.”

The event also included speeches from the Class of 2022 Representative Haley Beasley; AFI President Emerita Jean Picker Firstenberg; and EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

In introducing Yeoh, The Daniels said, “We were very fortunate to have the great privilege of getting to work with the legend, Michelle Yeoh. One of the first things we realized about her was how much kindness she has for the people around her…Not just her kindness, her work ethic, her willingness to be playful and vulnerable, and her bravery.”

Yeoh has appeared in more than 70 features and television series, with her filmography showcasing a collection of iconic roles, including CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, SUNSHINE and CRAZY RICH ASIANS. After appearing in the second installment of the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY franchise, Yeoh returned to the Marvel universe in SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. In March, she starred in the mind-bending, critically acclaimed EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE.

Addressing the graduates, Yeoh encouraged the next generation of filmmakers to “feel deeply, work passionately.” Adding, “If you hold onto the love of your craft, I promise you that your art will carry you. Be courageous, take chances, break barriers, be proud of what makes you unique. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to fall, because you are learning to fly.”

Lawrence Herbert, introduced by Jean Picker Firstenberg and honored for his support of AFI’s mission, spoke about the power of storytelling, “There is nothing more important than the stories you will tell, because you never know who you will inspire.”

Herbert made his mark as the driving creative force behind inventing a variety of color systems, including the world-renowned PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM®, which have become the standards for global communication of color in the printing, publishing, packaging, graphic arts, paint, plastics, coatings, computer, film, video, textiles and fashion industries. Herbert joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1987 and served until 2017. In 2020, his extraordinary commitment to AFI established the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center on the AFI Campus.

Yeoh and Herbert join an esteemed group of distinguished past recipients, including Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Saul Bass, Angela Bassett, Kathryn Bigelow, Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, Anne V. Coates, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, Nora Ephron, Jodie Foster, Lesli Linka Glatter, James Earl Jones, Lawrence Kasdan, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Paul Schrader, Quentin Tarantino, Lily Tomlin, Robert Towne, Cicely Tyson, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.

About Michelle Yeoh

Michelle Yeoh is an internationally recognized Malaysian-born actress who rose to fame in 1990s Hong Kong action films before going on to shatter convention and star in a myriad of globally acclaimed blockbusters. She has appeared in more than 70 features and television series, with her filmography showcasing a collection of iconic roles, including Ang Lee’s CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and its sequel CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: SWORD OF DESTINY, Rob Marshall’s MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Roger Spottiswoode’s TOMORROW NEVER DIES, Danny Boyle’s SUNSHINE and Jon Chu’s CRAZY RICH ASIANSthe highest-grossing romantic comedy in the U.S. in the past 10 years. After appearing in James Gunn’s second installment of the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY franchise, Yeoh returned to the Marvel universe in Destin Daniel Cretton’s SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS. In March, she starred in the Daniels’ mind-bending, critically acclaimed EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE, which has since become A24’s highest grosser.

Yeoh was most recently seen as Emperor Philippa Georgiou in CBS’ STAR TREK: DISCOVERY and voicing roles in the animated comedy features MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU and Paramount’s PAWS OF FURY. Next, she will be reuniting with Destin Daniel Cretton in Disney+’s AMERICAN BORN CHINESE and starring in Netflix’s upcoming limited series THE WITCHER: BLOOD ORIGIN. Other upcoming credits include James Cameron’s AVATAR sequels and Paul Feig’s THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL.

In 2022, Yeoh was once again featured in TIME100 “Most Influential People” list. And in 2016, she was appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations, focusing on raising awareness and mobilizing support for environmental issues.

About Lawrence Herbert

Lawrence Herbert was the chairman and CEO of Pantone, Inc., the world’s premier color standards company and color authority. He was the driving creative force behind inventing a variety of color systems, including the world-renowned PANTONE® MATCHING SYSTEM®, which have become the standards for global communication of color in the printing, publishing, packaging, graphic arts, paint, plastics, coatings, computer, film, video, textiles and fashion industries.

Recognition for his inventions, improvements and technical contributions to the printing industry won Herbert the Hall of Fame Award from the New Jersey Advertising Hall of Fame and the Gold Medal from Britain’s Institute of Printing. In 1995, the Association of the Graphic Arts presented Herbert with the prestigious “Power of Printing” Award, and in 2001, Herbert received the Platinum Corporate Legend Award from Pratt Institute.

Herbert holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology and Chemistry from Hofstra University ’51. He was elected to Hofstra’s Board of Trustees in 1980 and was Vice Chairman of the board from 1982-1986. Herbert earned an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the university, and they inaugurated the Lawrence Herbert Distinguished Professorship Chair in his honor. Hofstra also named its School of Communication for Lawrence Herbert.

A substantial supporter of many cultural institutions and health charities, Herbert has served on the Boards of the New York City Ballet and joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1987 and served until 2017. In 2020, his extraordinary commitment to AFI established the Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center on the AFI Campus, ensuring graduates of the Conservatory have every opportunity to continue their successes into the future.

 

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including AFI DWW+ and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

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.

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