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Why George Lucas' $10 million donation to promote diversity matters.

He and Mellody Hobson took a step toward helping underrepresented groups in Hollywood.

Why George Lucas' $10 million donation to promote diversity matters.

George Lucas wants to help make Hollywood a more diverse place — starting with his alma mater.

George Lucas graduated from the University of Southern California in the late 1960s before going on to make some of culture's most iconic films. In 2006, he donated a whopping $175 million to USC's film school. Nine years later, and he and his wife, Mellody Hobson, opened up the pocketbooks once again, this time with a much more targeted initiative.


Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Lucas and Hobson just donated $10 million to USC's film school to help minority students and increase diversity.

The donation marks the creation of the George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity. It's the largest single donation for student support the school has ever received.

Here's how it'll work, according to the school's website:

"Undergraduate and graduate African American or Hispanic students will receive priority consideration for financial support from the fund. The recipients, who will be called George Lucas Scholars or Mellody Hobson Scholars, will first be awarded for fall 2016. The awards will be split equally between male and female students."

Hispanic and African-American storytellers are underrepresented in the entertainment industry. It is Mellody's and my privilege to provide this assistance to qualified students who want to contribute their unique experience and talent to telling their stories," Lucas said in a statement posted to the school's website (emphasis added).

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

USC's own striking 2014 study found that, yes, diversity is certainly lacking in Hollywood.

When it came to characters, nearly three-quarters were white.

"Of those characters coded for race/ethnicity across 100 top films of 2014, 73.1% were White, 4.9% were Hispanic/Latino, 12.5% were Black, 5.3% were Asian, 2.9% were Middle Eastern, <1% were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and 1.2% were from “other" racial and/or ethnic groupings."


And when it comes to diversity among directors, things are even worse.

"Across the 100 top films of 2014, only 5 of the 107 directors (4.7%) were Black. One Black director helmed two pictures and only one was female. Only 45 Black directors have been attached to the 700 top‐grossing films. This represents 5.8% of all helmers in the years analyzed. Only 19 Asian directors worked across the 700 top‐grossing films. This is an overall percentage of 2.4%. Only 1 Asian director was female across the films analyzed and was listed as a co‐director."

Lucas' contribution will certainly help, and hopefully spark a wider conversation about, diversity in Hollywood.

Fixing Hollywood's diversity problems isn't something that can happen overnight. Change hinges on so many factors, and one is the question of whether those in a position of power will use that power to lift the voices of minority filmmakers and actors. That's why it's important that people like Michael Moore and Geena Davis speak up and that George Lucas makes contributions like this.

Lucas resists the dark side of the Force and proves himself to be a true Jedi. Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images.

Lucas' donation helps push back in an effort to break down the barriers that prevent others from telling their stories. Well done, George.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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