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George Clooney, Hollywood A-Listers Launch LA Magnet School, Hoping To Help Solve Hollywood's Diversity Problem

Mindy Kaling and Don Cheadle walk towards the camera while touring a school.
Actors Mindy Kaling and Don Cheadle tour the magnet high school at L.A. Unified's Roybal Learning Center near downtown on Wed., Sept. 14, 2022. Kaling and Cheadle are among a roster of A-list advisors to the school, which aims to provide film and TV industry training to a more diverse array of students.
(Kyle Stokes
/
LAist)
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Hollywood's diversity problem is no secret. Numerous studies have shown people of color are drastically underrepresented in film and television jobs, both in front of and behind the camera.

A newly relaunched Los Angeles Unified magnet high school represents the latest effort to try and solve this problem through building a K-12 education entry point.

Backed by an A-list roster of donors and advisors — including founder George Clooney and actors Mindy Kaling, Don Cheadle, Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria — the Roybal School of Film & TV Production Magnet in downtown L.A. will offer industry training to an overwhelmingly Latino student body.

"I'm a child of immigrants, I was raised by a TV — I know many of you also have parents who were immigrants. I came home and that’s where I fell in love with this [medium]," Kaling said during a ceremony at the school on Wednesday.

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"But I had no access" to the industry, Kaling added. "And that’s what’s amazing about this school is we’re going to try to provide that.”

Creative Artists Agency co-chairman Bryan Lourd is also on the school's advisory board, along with executives from FOX Entertainment, the A+E Networks Group, Working Title Films and Paramount.

How Effective Might This Enterprise Be?

The TV and film industry has also been repeatedly criticized for not having enough women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera.

The studios, agencies and Hollywood unions involved in Roybal have pooled more than $4 million in financial support for the school — and Clooney said these players have also promised to help the magnet in other ways.

“When our first group [of students] is graduating and has been through the course," Clooney said, "there’s going to be internships and apprenticeships and actual jobs, that are going to lead to better and better jobs so we can change the complexity of this industry from the start — from freshman year in high school.”

Roybal currently has about 1,000 students. The process for relaunching the school began under previous superintendent Austin Beutner, who told The New York Times last year that curriculum and opportunities developed at Roybal might be scaled up to reach other district schools.

This is the second star-backed academic program to arrive in LAUSD this school year. Music producers Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine helped found a school with a design and entrepreneurship focus, which opened in Leimert Park in August.

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).