“The Chi” creator Lena Waithe has launched a new mentorship program and is now accepting applications from aspiring marginalized storytellers to help them kick off their careers. Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions banner created the Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab to help aspiring film and television makers to connect, grow and accelerate their careers.
Hillman Grad Productions stated that the 10-month annual program will be tuition-free and grant 25 fellows the opportunity to enhance their creative skill set through personalized instruction from industry professionals. The Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab consists of three separate tracks: television writing, screen acting and executive development. The slate will include workshops, educational resources, professional development and networking opportunities.
Waithe believes that her guidance can help employ more people of color behind the camera as well. “The hope is to populate the industry with people that otherwise wouldn’t have access to it,” she said.”Our focus will be craft, how to navigate the industry and how to build community.”
Applications are due by Jan. 10, 2021, and can be submitted to www.hillmangrad.com/mentorship-labs. The aspiring talent will have a vast list of projects to work on with one being a biopic of Sammy Davis Jr. Waithe’s Hillman Grad is one of the production companies behind the project, which will be based on the book, Sammy Davis Jr.: My Father, written by Davis’ daughter, Tracey, and Dolores A. Barclay.
The film’s synopsis reads: “In his 60s, groundbreaking entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. tries to pull off the biggest showbiz reunion in history, but first he’ll have to mend all the relationships he’s broken along the way to stardom. Told in impressionistic flashbacks, [this is] the story of Sammy Davis Jr.’s rise from child prodigy to global superstar, as he fights racism the Hollywood machine, and his personal demons in a last-ditch attempt to reclaim his former stardom.”
Waithe spoke about the project, saying, “As Black culture continues to define pop culture, Sammy’s immense mark is undeniable. His story as a generational talent trying to make his way as a father, husband and a Black man in America is one I have long wanted to help tell.”
Production is slated to begin next year.