Entertainment

George Clooney, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington founding TV and film high school in Los Angeles

Actor George Clooney and several other Hollywood power-players are partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create a new high school focused on training students for careers in the entertainment industry.

The Academy Award-winner, 60, along with Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria, Don Cheadle, Mindy Kaling and other principals at A-list talent agency CAA will be major donors as well as board members for the public magnet school.

The school will be called the Roybal School of Film and Television Production and plans educate a diverse new generation of cinematographers, engineers, visual effects artists for LA‘s film and TV industry.

‘Our aim is to better reflect the diversity of our country. That means starting early,’ Clooney told NBC 4, the network’s Los Angeles affiliate.

‘It means creating high school programs that teach young people about cameras, and editing and visual effects and sound and all the career opportunities that this industry has to offer,’ he went about the program, which will create opportunities for LAUSD’s disproportionately low-income study body.

Starting small: The school will initially enroll 120 students, serving 9th and 10th grade before expanding into Grades 11 and 12 over the next two years and is set to open in the Fall of 2022

‘It means internships that lead to well-paying careers. It means understanding that we’re all in this together.’ 

In addition to Clooney and his Hollywood cohorts, the school’s advisory board will include his producing partner, Grant Heslov; Bryan Lourd, co-chairman at C.A.A.; Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, co-chairmen of Working Title Films; and Nicole Avant, a producer and the wife of Ted Sarandos, the co-chief executive of Netflix.

The school, which will be located at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center in the city’s Westlake neighborhood, will initially enroll 120 students from across LA, serving 9th and 10th grade before expanding into Grades 11 and 12 over the next two years. It is set to open in the Fall of 2022. 

It will start with a budget of $7million, with the district covering about 80 percent of the costs while the board and other donors will make up the difference, adding up to an estimated total of around $8.75m. If successful, LAUSD plans on expanding the program throughout the district.

This new LAUSD initiative comes after news rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine announced they were starting their own specialized high school in South Los Angeles focusing on entrepreneurship. (The school is based of the duo’s academy at U.S.C. which cultivated skills for business in the creative industry.)

According to district officials there are more high-profile initiatives involving robotics and music already being planned with major entertainment figures. 

Teachers: This new LAUSD initiative comes after news rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine announced they were starting their own specialized high school in South Los Angeles focusing on entrepreneurship

Teachers: This new LAUSD initiative comes after news rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine announced they were starting their own specialized high school in South Los Angeles focusing on entrepreneurship

Class is in session: The magnate school will be called the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, located in the city's Westlake neighborhood

Class is in session: The magnate school will be called the Roybal School of Film and Television Production, located in the city’s Westlake neighborhood

The influx of interest has been attributed to schools superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and newspaper publisher who has had the top job at LAUSD since May 1, 2018 and is well connected within the city.

It was his relationship with C.A.A., who had helped the district during the pandemic, that lead to the Roybal School collaboration, after Clooney reached out to the agency’s co-chairman Bryan Lourd.  

Beutner quickly introduced the pair to district officials who were already running a small magnet program at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, where the new program will be located.

And less than two weeks later the Roybal School Of Film And Television Production was officially green-lit by LAUSD.

‘We thought this would be a lot longer process, but we found we were pushing an open door,’ Clooney said, noting how he was surprised by the district’s willingness to explore the possibilities. 

Connections: The influx of interest has been attributed to schools superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and newspaper publisher who has had the top job at LAUSD since May 1, 2018 and is well connected within the city. He's seen in 2019 above

Connections: The influx of interest has been attributed to schools superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and newspaper publisher who has had the top job at LAUSD since May 1, 2018 and is well connected within the city. He’s seen in 2019 above

The program will feature a curriculum that adheres to California teaching standards while introducing students to crucial technical skills.

The program, which is being developed from the ground up, will be planned by a team of district teachers and staff and industry professionals. 

‘It’s making the instructional part of the day relevant,’ Superintendent Beutner told NBC4, ’embedding those skills in the curriculum and connecting it to a job.’

Clooney and company are among a handful of figures from sports and entertainment who have made investments in education.

In the early 2000s former Phoenix Suns player Kevin Johnson launched a series of charter schools in Sacramento.

And in 2018, NBA star Lebron James joined in a partnership with the Akron school system in Ohio to reopen a troubled public elementary school with funding from the Lebron James Family Foundation.


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