Oscar-winning filmmaker and EBONY Power 100 Icon honoree Spike Lee has announced the creation of the Spike Lee Fellows Program to support HBCU film students.

In partnership with the Gersh Agency, a premiere talent and literary agency, the program will serve aspiring filmmakers at the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC), that's made up of Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, according to the press release.

Lee, a proud graduate of Morehouse, shared his excitement about establishing the fellowship in a statement.

“It is with great honor, privilege, and excitement to announce the Spike Fellows in association with my partners The Gersh Agency and the AUCC," Lee's statement read. "From the jump, from the get-go, I knew when (not if) I opened a crack in the door, I was bringing as many Black and Brown folks with me in front and behind the camera."

“I know firsthand the education one receives at a Historically Black College and University," he added. "I am who I am because of my grandmother (Zimmie Jackson) and my mother (Jacquelyn Shelton Lee), who both graduated from Spelman College. I am who I am because of my grandfather (Richard Jackson Shelton) and my father (William Lee), who both graduated from Morehouse. It’s on the campuses of Spelman and Morehouse where they met, fell in love and got married. As my elders often told me, ‘Deeds not words.'”

Led by Jayson Council, head of culture at the Gersh Agency, the Spike Lee Fellows Program will offer student debt relief, mentorship with industry creatives, internships for graduates and full-time employment.

“As industry leaders, we’ve always taken seriously the responsibility to build a more diverse, dynamic ecosystem in which people of all ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences can thrive,” added Leslie Siebert, a Senior Managing Partner of Gersh. “We are honored that Spike has chosen us to be his inaugural partner, and we are proud to welcome the five inaugural Spike Fellows into our organization.” 

The fellowship program will officially begin in January 2023 with five inaugural fellows selected by Lee, the AUCC community and the Gersh Agency's management team.

Lee and the Gersh Agency plan to expand the fellowship with more participants and additional resources in the future.