UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television to establish ‘Say Yes!’ MFA scholarships in the name of ‘Over the Moon’ screenwriter.
LOS ANGELES -- Teri Schwartz, Dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT), one of the world’s most prominent academic institutions for entertainment and performing arts education, announced today that Pearl Studio, one of the world’s leading creators of animated entertainment for the global family market, has gifted $100,000 in scholarships to UCLA TFT in memory of screenwriter, director and producer Audrey Wells (The Hate U Give, Under the Tuscan Sun) to fund current use and endowed M.F.A. scholarships in directing and screenwriting. Wells, a UCLA TFT alumna, passed away on October 4, 2018. Her final screenplay, the animated musical Over the Moon, a film developed internally at Pearl, is currently in production for a 2020 release under the direction of veteran, Academy award-winning animator Glen Keane (Dear Basketball, Beauty and the Beast). Pearl Studio will distribute the film in China; Netflix will distribute in all other territories.
“We are deeply appreciative to Pearl Studio for their vision and generosity to honor such a special, beloved alumna and filmmaker,” says Schwartz. “We all greatly mourn Audrey’s passing, but are confident that this brilliant gift will honor and shine a bright light on her wonderful creative voice to use the power of story for good in the world; to illuminate our common humanity; and to bring joy to us all. This is a beautiful gesture to support and inspire students, ensuring a lasting legacy for the remarkable Audrey Wells, long into the future.”
Two current-use scholarships will be awarded from the Audrey Wells Memorial “Say Yes!” Scholarships, first to an M.F.A. screenwriting student in the 2018-19 academic year and, in the 2019-20 year, to an M.F.A. directing student. Beginning in 2021, an endowed scholarship will alternate awards annually between a qualified M.F.A. screenwriting student and an M.F.A. directing student. All of the scholarships include a one-week all-inclusive artist residency at Pearl Studio, known as the Pearl Studio Artists in Residence Program. Additionally, scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to be mentored by an industry professional who worked with Wells during her lifetime.
“It was a remarkable and profoundly moving experience to collaborate with Audrey on her final screenplay Over the Moon,” says Peilin Chou, Chief Creative Officer for Pearl Studio. “We are filled with joy and gratitude at this opportunity to celebrate one of our industry’s most accomplished and cherished artists, and to be part of continuing Audrey’s legacy in the form of Pearl Studio’s gift to the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. We know that Audrey’s remarkable body of work, filled with so much grace and heart, will live on forever. It is our greatest hope that these scholarships will inspire, nurture and creatively support a new generation of filmmakers who will carry on the spirit of Audrey’s work - a spirit of strength, inclusivity, compassion and healing - for decades to come.”
Audrey Wells, who graduated from UCLA TFT with an M.F.A. in 1989, was an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. Her writing credits include A Dog’s Purpose (2017), The Game Plan (2007), George of the Jungle (1997) and Under the Tuscan Sun (2003), which she also directed. Her screenplay for The Hate U Give, based on author Angie Thomas’ critically acclaimed 2017 novel, was turned into a film that was released in theaters on October 5, 2018, one day after her passing.
“Audrey’s motto was ‘Say yes’ -- yes to life, to art, to creativity and, most of all, to opportunities,” says Brian Larky, Wells’ husband. “With this scholarship, we say yes to new waves of filmmakers, to voices of transformation and healing, to voices of diversity, and to stories of women, crafted by women. Stories told with strength, with vision, and with compassion, that will lead conversations of inclusivity and universality for generations to come. Our family is extremely grateful to Pearl Studio for honoring Audrey in this extraordinary way and for the remarkable collaboration on her last screenplay, Over the Moon.”
In addition to Over the Moon, Pearl is currently in production on Abominable, a co-production with DreamWorks Animation, directed by Jill Culton, to be released in China by Pearl Studio, and worldwide everywhere else through Universal Pictures in 2019. The company, headquartered in Shanghai, has branches in New York and Los Angeles, and is backed by a CMC Capital Partners-led consortium It was previously operated as a Joint Venture known as Oriental DreamWorks, which co-produced the first American-Chinese animated co-production Kung Fu Panda 3, which generated more than $500M in worldwide box-office revenues and was one of the most successful animated films ever released in China.
To support the Audrey Wells Memorial “Say Yes!” Scholarships, contact Fred Bush, UCLA TFT Assistant Dean, Development, at (310) 206-5999.
Source: UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television