Adobe continues to support the pipeline of inclusive storytellers through USC MFA Acting Program Grant

Collage of images of film stills by the USC SDA MFA Film Initiative 2023 USC SDA MFA Film Initiative by Ian Dooley.

Films have incredible power to connect people, inspire culture, and create impactful change in the world. That is why it’s so important to create greater opportunity and access for underrepresented creators in the film and entertainment industry, ensuring that the stories on screen reflect the world we live in. Short films are a time-tested path into film festivals, awards ceremonies, and industry circles, and the growth of online video consumption and interest in short form video has only served to propel the format to broader audiences.

Furthering our efforts to support the next generation of storytellers, the Adobe Foundation has made a grant of $250k to the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ (SDA) MFA Acting Program, which will directly support the production of short films for underrepresented students. The MFA Acting program trains their artists to be media-agile, multihyphenate creators and entrepreneurs, which they believe is critical to making storytelling in all mediums more inclusive. 75 percent of USC SDA’s MFA Acting cohort identifies with an underrepresented racial/ethnic group, and this program will be a critical pipeline into the industry for acting talent.

“This grant will empower [students] far beyond their time at USC, helping to develop a new generation of powerful multihyphenated creators.”

- Tessa Hope Slovis, USC School of Dramatic Arts alumni & one of the lead faculty members of USC SDA’s MFA Film Initiative

“With a faculty of working professionals second to none, the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ MFA Acting Program guides our students to explore their craft, develop their vision as an artist and ensure that they gain the experience and confidence to work in every medium, form or technology.”

- David Warshofsky, Director of MFA Acting

Paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse industry

The Adobe Foundation grant we’ve announced today builds on our commitment to creating greater inclusivity, access, opportunity and creativity for all. Since 2015, we’ve been proud to work alongside the Sundance Institute, through the Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellowship — a year-round artist-development program inspiring creativity and supporting emerging filmmakers ages 18 to 25.

Over the last seven years our collaboration has supported more than 90 Fellows with the necessary tools, mentorship and resources needed to tell their stories. We’ve also introduced the Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship in 2020, a year-round program designed to foster community, further their craft and offer support to female artists who are creating bold new work in film and media. Through our AMPED Creative Cohort, we’re bringing together multi-hyphenate creators and giving underrepresented creatives the space to push the envelope through initiatives, projects, and masterclasses with exposure to digital literacy tools, networking opportunities and partnerships.

Our ongoing efforts towards creating a more inclusive and diverse entertainment industry inspired the Adobe Foundation to also get behind ‘The Inclusion List’ — a new research-led effort with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which measures inclusion in the industry from 1929 to present day, charting nominations for women and people of color across 19 categories.

Our hope is that this research can truly be a catalyst to enlighten, educate, and most importantly, inspire the next generation of storytellers. In the coming months, as a result of prior funding, the Adobe Foundation and the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative will release additional research that recognizes who has been a driving force for change in inclusion in the industry, how they’ve done so, and what more needs to be done.

Adobe has been at the heart of connecting content, data and innovative tools that democratize creativity and shape the next generation of storytelling. Through its grantmaking to organizations and nonprofits worldwide, the Adobe Foundation aims to create a world where more people, regardless of background, can be creative and share their stories.