These Four Women in Entertainment Created a Film Scholarship to Foster New Voices. Here’s Why

four sistas

When Dehanza Rogers first heard of the Four Sisters Endowed Scholarship, she wondered at the meaning of the name.

“I mean what sisters are we talking about?” she remembers thinking to herself. “It could have meant any number of things.”

Then a first-year MFA student at the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television, the 2014 graduate applied for the scholarship to help fund her thesis film years late.

But when she saw the names behind the scholarship, she knew what sistas they were actually talking about: Sara Finney-JohnsonMara Brock AkilGina Prince-Bythewood and Felicia D. Henderson. From Being Mary Jane and Moesha to Love & Basketball and Soul Food: The Series, these four women have created some of the most important talking points in Black television and film lexicon.

Indeed, for decades, they have consistently been telling stories of the Black experience, navigating an industry that is notorious as much for its lack of diversity in storytelling as its storytellers. Each had her share of pushback and difficulties. And it was from these experiences that the idea —- to endow a scholarship towards filmmakers wanting to create African-American themed projects  — was born. And the four friends agreed to endow it in a place that molds future industry influencers:  film school.

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