Fund to Support Promising Producers from Diverse Backgrounds
Haley Beasley and Nagee Brown Named First Thomas P. Pollock Fellows
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 25, 2020, Los Angeles, CA – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the establishment of the Thomas P. Pollock Endowed Scholarship Fund in memory of AFI Chair Emeritus Thomas Pollock. The fund, established in collaboration with Pollock’s family, is supported by leadership gifts from Mellody Hobson and George Lucas, Robert Daly and Carole Bayer Sager, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Todd Phillips, Alan and Cindy Horn, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, the Jeffrey and Margo Baker Barbakow Family, Ivan Reitman, Ron Howard, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alan Hergott, Jon and Barbara Avnet, George and Amal Clooney, Universal Pictures and the Pollock Family – Alexandra and Ryan Gagerman, Allegra and Paul Brandano and Luke Pollock.
“Tom championed AFI and the power of great stories – and he believed in the mission of the Conservatory to inspire and educate diverse voices,” said Kathleen Kennedy, Chair of the AFI Board of Trustees. “Through this endowed scholarship fund, made possible by the goodwill and admiration he created during his lifetime, his legacy will live on in the next generation of storytellers.”
Pollock’s first job was at the American Film Institute serving as assistant to Founding Director George Stevens, Jr. in the earliest days of the AFI Conservatory, and he went on to become one of the most influential attorneys in town – Senior Partner of Pollock, Bloom and Dekom – and then, Chairman of Universal Pictures for over a decade. During his tenure, Universal released over 200 films, including SCHINDLER’S LIST, JURASSIC PARK and DO THE RIGHT THING.
Pollock joined the AFI Board of Trustees in 1985 and during his 35 years of leadership, he served as Chairman of the AFI Board of Trustees and Chairman of the AFI Board of Directors – and most recently as Vice Chair.
In honor of Pollock’s commitment to educating the next generation and increasing diversity, the endowed scholarship will be awarded annually to promising producers from underrepresented communities. The first Thomas P. Pollock Fellows are Haley Beasley (Producing, Class of 2022) and Nagee Brown (Producing, Class of 2022).
Haley Beasley is originally from Bakersfield, CA, and has a background in both art and digital marketing. She plans to explore the intersection between various storytelling platforms – how literature, music, dance, technology, video games, and film all inform each other – and to use film as the nexus to explore all of these storytelling methods to build more interactive, 360 experiences for those who crave next-level entertainment. Beasley said, “The drive to tell my own stories is no longer as important as the need to create content for people like me. For my siblings. For black women. For marginalized communities who have grown tired of waiting for things to change in their favor.”
Nagee Brown grew up in Philadelphia but rarely saw any “brotherly love” displayed toward him. When Brown saw STATIC SHOCK, the first show he had ever seen starring a Black superhero, he found his hero in the show’s creator, Dwayne McDuffie, and realized he wanted to be a producer. Before starting AFI, Brown was mentored by AFI alumni Bea Sequeira (Class of 2003), Deniese Davis (Class of 2012) and David Starks (Class of 2018). Of that experience, Brown said, “Alum that I have met in the past year credit their success to what they were taught while being at AFI, specifically what they learned about themselves as filmmakers during the narrative workshops that they attended. I want to one day say the same.”
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 American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit 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 AFI.com and follow us on social media
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American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, SAdamski@AFI.com