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Pace University Launches Writing for Diversity and Equity in Theater and Media Arts Fellows Program

Today, Pace University announced the launch of a new program, "Writing for Diversity and Equity in Theater and Media Arts Fellows Program," supported by a three-year grant of $585,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Eligible undergraduates majoring in one of several Pace arts and humanities programs will be selected as Fellows, with the aim of developing diverse and inclusive voices in media and the performing arts. The first class of Fellows will be selected this fall.

"Pace University offers some of the best performing arts training in New York City, and we have a long tradition of creating opportunities for students from a wide range of backgrounds," said Marvin Krislov, Pace's president. "This grant allows us to continue our important work of opening doors and enabling careers for our hardworking, ambitious students."

This new program will create opportunities for participating students, including students from historically underrepresented communities of color, to break into writers' rooms and sustain careers in the industry. This will enable diverse and inclusive voices to depict and reflect their own experience of racial and ethnic diversity, rather than having their experiences interpreted and presented by others. Currently, less than five percent of television writers are black (according to Race in the Writers' Room: How Hollywood Whitewashes the Stories That Shape America, a study by Darnell Hunt, PhD, UCLA dean of social sciences and professor of sociology and African American studies), and just three percent of Actors' Equity Association members are Hispanic (according to the Actors' Equity Association 2016-2017 Theatrical Season Report).

"In my own career I have seen a lack of diversity in the sciences, and in the media and entertainment industries," said Vanya Quiñones, PhD, Pace's provost. "With the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this new program will help develop diverse voices by providing students with the necessary training to tell their own stories on our country's screens and stages."

"It is fitting that Pace University is leading the effort to have underrepresented communities gain their fair share of voice when it comes to the telling of their stories in mainstream film, television, plays and other media," said Nira Herrmann, PhD, dean of the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences. "Our motto of Opportunitas speaks directly to providing our population of diverse students the education they need to be part of an important paradigm shift in how the media tells the stories of disenfranchised populations. We are thrilled that the Mellon Foundation is supporting this initiative."

The Writing for Diversity and Equity in Theater and Media Arts Fellows Program is a career development initiative for Pace University's undergraduate writing students. It will offer pre-professional experiences to complement classroom learning as a pathway to meaningful careers through a robust range of mentoring and guidance, networking opportunities and access to directors, actors and designers who represent an intersectionality of diversity. The program will promote authentic dialogue about diverse communities and embrace the complexities of underlying social and historical issues.

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