In addition, FAMU announced it received a $1.5 million gift from the Knight Foundation to add multimedia functionality to the amphitheater, making homecoming all the more special.
The new space on campus, which will house the Will Packer Performing Arts Amphitheater, will be now known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Plaza.
Packer, who graduated from FAMU in 1996 with a degree in electrical engineering, was filled with pride about the newly named Will Packer Performing Arts Amphitheater.
“It is such a huge honor,” he said. “It’s hard to overstate how big this is for me personally.”
“I choose to look at it as not just an honor for me as an individual but what I represent—an HBCU grad who came into FAMU without having any Hollywood connections or knowledge of the industry, who was able to go and find my voice, find my vision, find my passion and shape my dream and have been able to be successful doing that,” he added. “To me, that’s the bigger statement.”
Back in 2019, Packer learned that his alma mater was planning to dedicate the new amphitheater in his honor. After receiving the news, the first person he decided to call was his mother.
“I said, ‘Mom, get ready,” he recalled. “I need you at homecoming. They’re dedicating an amphitheater to me. They’re putting my name on a building at FAMU. She goes, ‘What?!'”
“She just couldn’t believe such a big honor was being bestowed on her son,” Packer said.
Although the dedication was postponed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s homecoming, titled “The Epic Return,” has been the culmination of the tremendous honor.
Packer was joined by his family, his brothers in Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, classmates, alumni, supporters and fans.
Not only did he get an amphitheater named in his honor, but Packer got to join frequent collaborator Kevin Hart, Molly Qerim Rose, and Stephen A. Smith for a live taping of ESPN’s First Take on FAMU’s campus.
In his illustrious career, Packer has produced or executive produced several films including Girls Trip, The Photograph, Little, What Men Want, Night School, Breaking In, No Good Deed, Takers, Obsessed, and Stomp The Yard. In television, his credits include Ambitions, Bigger, Being Mary Jane, and Uncle Buck. He’s the CEO of Will Packer Productions and Will Packer Media.
As EBONY previously reported, Packer was selected to produce the 94th Academy Awards.
In his speech, he quoted from the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, that his late father, Will Packer Sr., made him remember as a high schooler.
“When you come to a university like FAMU, you can’t control who is going to be around you,” he said. “Who’s around you shapes who you are.”