George Lucas has donated $10 million to the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, the same place he graduated from nearly 50 years ago.
The gift – the largest single donation for student support in the school’s history – will establish The George Lucas Foundation Endowed Student Support Fund for Diversity which will provide financial support for African American and Hispanic students enrolled at the School.
The Star Wars creator said Hispanic and African-American storytellers were underrepresented in the entertainment industry.
Student support will be split equally between male and female students, who will be known as George Lucas Scholars or Mellody Hobson Scholars. The first recipients will be awarded for the fall of 2016.
In addition to the Lucas Family Foundation’s fund, the School of Cinematic Arts has recently received a number of endowment gifts specifically earmarked for student support including: the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Fund for Student Support, the Shriram Family Graduate Student Support Fund, and the Kelly & Ron Meyer Family Fund for Student Support.
George Lucas previously donated around $175 million in 2006, some of which was used to rebuild the film school.
The director is awaiting a vote by Chicago’s City Council on his plans to build a 300,000 square foot Museum of Narrative Art beside Lake Michigan.
Sci-fi director JJ Abrams will direct the seventh Star Wars film, Lucasfilm owner Walt Disney Co has announced.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said he was the “ideal choice” to direct the movie – due out in 2015 – adding “the legacy couldn’t be in better hands”.
It will be scripted by Oscar-winning writer Michael Arndt.
JJ Abrams, who co-created Lost and directed the Star Trek reboot, said he was “more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid”.
In October, Disney announced it had bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion and was committed to three new films.
Former Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who will produce the films, said JJ Abrams was “the perfect director to helm this”.
“Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise – he understands the essence of the Star Wars experience,” she said in a statement.
JJ Abrams will direct the seventh Star Wars film
JJ Abrams, who has also directed films including Mission: Impossible III and Super 8, said in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times that, “as a kid, Star Wars was much more my thing than Star Trek was”.
The original Star Wars trilogy – which consists of the original film in 1977, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi – was always envisioned by George Lucas as the central chunk of a nine-movie cycle.
The films followed the fortunes of young hero Luke Skywalker, cocky pilot Han Solo and the feisty Princess Leia as they battled against the Galactic Empire.
A trilogy of Star Wars prequels – 1999’s The Phantom Menace, 2002’s Attack of the Clones and 2005’s Revenge of the Sith – followed.
Disney has previously said George Lucas would remain as a creative consultant on the series.
In October, George Lucas revealed he had written story treatments for the seventh, eighth and ninth installments which he would hand over to Kathleen Kennedy.