National Geographic brings Samburu warrior to California elementary school to talk wildlife conservation in Africa
Jeneria and Yesalai, two warriors from Kenya's Samburu tribe, visited more than 800 students at Alta Vista Elementary School in Redondo Beach, California, on May 19 as part of the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative Sister School Program (BCISSP). The program pairs American schools with African schools to help educators teach their students about the worldwide decline of lion, tiger, cheetah, and leopard populations, a trend that Jeneria and Yesalai are working with National Geographic to reverse. Alta Vista Elementary has participated in BCISSP for three consecutive years, and the students raised more than $4,500 for their African sister school, Remot Primary, this year alone.
"We are thrilled that our school was chosen for this unique and meaningful opportunity," said Susan Wildes, principal of Alta Vista Elementary. "It allows our students to make connections with diverse groups of people and become more internationally minded, while engaging in a passionate study of the animals our school loves so much."
Alta Vista was one of the first schools to sign on to BCISSP when the program was launched during the 2013-2014 school year. The initiative educates students at American elementary schools about the dangers facing big cat species in Africa and encourages them to engage in service learning projects to learn more and raise awareness in their communities. Any funds raised during these projects go toward the purchase of school supplies for their sister schools in Africa, which are often in communities most affected by big cat extinction.
The visit from Jeneria and Yesalai gave the students the chance to hear directly from those who are working with National Geographic on the ground to halt big cats' population decline. They gave a presentation to a full auditorium about how they track and observe lions and teach villagers how to protect their livestock from attacks. Jeneria and Yesalai are two of the 19 total Samburu warriors in Nat Geo's Warrior Watch program, which enlists the help of the Kenyan tribesman in observing and protecting big cat species.
"Lions are really declining in number," Jeneria said during his presentation. "We have only 2,000 lions left in Kenya, and in the whole African continent, there are only 15,000 left."
Wildes spoke with the Daily Breeze about the program, saying big cats are included in nearly every subject at Alta Vista. She said the $4,500 the students raised for Remot Primary this year will go toward renovating the school, as well as repairing and restocking the Remot's termite-infested library. The students are in regular contact with their counterparts at Remot, sending emails, photos and letters, and holding virtual assemblies. Wildes says she can tell how passionate her students are about this cause.
"They're really understanding what their role can be in raising money and raising awareness," Wildes said.
Visit the Daily Breeze for more information on the visit, including a video of Jeneria's presentation, and learn more about the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative.
Ghetto Film School's teen filmmakers have their scripts read by Hollywood stars at event co-hosted by James Murdoch and Brett Ratner
A cast of Hollywood actors including Max Greenfield ("New Girl"), Grace Gealey ("Empire"), Dascha Polanco ("Joy") and others gathered at the legendary Hilhaven Lodge in Beverly Hills to perform two short-film scripts written by the teenage students from Ghetto Film School. The May 25 table reading event, co-hosted by 21st Century Fox CEO and GFS board member James Murdoch, served as both a celebration of and a fundraiser for the organization, which teaches filmmaking to young people from communities traditionally underrepresented in Hollywood. 21CF is the founding sponsor of GFS Los Angeles, which opened its doors in June 2014.
The star-studded event featured appearances from Mariah Carey, "Pitch" executive producer Dan Fogelman, Jonathan Togo ("CSI: Miami") and Elizabeth Whitson ("Awkward"), as well as Chairman and CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Jim Gianopulos, Co-Chairman of Twentieth Century Fox Stacey Snider and President of Fox 2000 Pictures Elizabeth Gabler.
Ghetto Film School operates at two locations, one in the South Bronx of New York City and another in the MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The table read event featured scripts written by students at both campuses. Actor Jamie Hector of "The Wire" and "Bosch" took the lead role in "Genesis," a psychological horror-thriller written by Romeo Ortiz and directed by Kyra Peters, both from GFS New York. "Ghost of a Chance," a comedy written by GFS LA student Gillian Lyons, featured Greenfield and Simon Helberg ("The Big Bang Theory") in lead roles. "I'm here to give [the students] an opportunity to have semi-professional actors like myself butcher their words in front of really important people," Helberg joked.
Following the read-throughs, a panel of filmmakers including directors and GFS Board Members David O. Russell and Lee Daniels, as well as director Brett Ratner and The Black List founder Franklin Leonard offered notes and spoke with the students about screenwriting and production. "This script is very funny. You had your audience laughing out loud, which is hard to do," Russell commented to Lyons. "Considering you're 17 years old, I'd go so far as to say you have a gift," Franklin added, with Ratner recommending she get started right away on a feature-length version.
The experience of hearing their scripts read aloud by professional actors and receiving feedback from some of Hollywood's top directors proved both exciting and valuable for the students. "[It was] incredible," Lyons said afterward. The two student teams will shoot the scripts they presented at the event in London this summer.
21CF is a longtime supporter of Ghetto Film School, helping provide its students with an immersive education in both the craft and business of filmmaking. The company is the founding sponsor of GFS LA and consistently gives the students opportunities to gain hands-on experience in film and television. Recently, GFS NY students visited the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles for a day of workshops and masterclass conversation with several of the company's top executives. In addition, students at GFS LA recently partnered with Fox Networks Group Global Marketing for their spring Industry 101 course, where they developed digital promos for new series premiering this summer.
Photos by Dan Steinberg for Invision.
FOX Sports hosts delegation of women from Afghanistan to discuss creating a culture of health and fitness
Five of Afghanistan's leading female coaches, nonprofit directors and sports professionals visited the FOX Sports headquarters in Los Angeles on May 12 to discuss how best to encourage young women in their home country to participate in sports. The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA) arranged the trip as part of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program for professional and cultural exchanges. The visit featured a tour of the FOX Sports studios and a roundtable discussion with top executives on how to organize programs, drive participation, and establish a culture of health, activity, and fitness.
"Historically, sports has been an impetus for social change, including the evolution of race, gender and sexual orientation equality," said Cayla Pingel, a finance manager at FOX Sports who helped organize the trip. "It's our responsibility as the Women of FOX Sports to not only work to empower female colleagues at FOX Sports, but to also share experiences and mentor other women globally."
The delegation consisted of five prominent figures in Afghanistan's sports world, representing a diverse range of organizations, including Hajar Abulfazl, coach of the under-17 squad of the Afghanistan National Women's Soccer Team; Salma Hussaini, director of the Women's Committee at the country's National Taekwondo Federation; Laila Safi, coach and owner of the Balkh Women Exercise Center; Tuba Sangar, development manager of women's cricket at the Afghanistan Cricket Board; and Firoza Wahedy, director of the Women Economic, Social & Sport Development Organization (WESSDO).
Their day began with a roundtable discussion of how to promote sports programs and events, how to combine sports and social activism and the cultural and religious obstacles facing women in Afghanistan who want to participate in sports. Jeff Krolik, President of FOX Sports Regional Networks, and Chris Hannon, EVP of Communication and Integration at FOX Sports, joined the meeting, along with four representatives of Women of FOX Sports (WoFS), a professional resource for the company's female colleagues.
Following the discussion, WoFS representatives led the delegation on a tour of FOX Sports' studio operations, demonstrating how the sports industry is covered and marketed in the U.S., as well as how women's roles in sports--from athletes to journalists to studio technicians--have evolved over the years. The tour culminated in a meeting with Colin Cowherd, host of "The Herd" on FOX Sports 1.
Launched in fall 2015, the Women of FOX Sports initiative helps the business's female employees connect, support, and learn from one another. The group has featured a series of events including speaker panels and mentoring, and has rallied employees to give back to the community through volunteering and donation drives.
Follow Women of FOX Sports on Twitter to stay up to date with all their future programs.
'Empire' exec producer and showrunner Ilene Chaiken honored with GLSEN Respect Award for representing LGBT people on TV
Ilene Chaiken, "Empire" executive producer and showrunner, was honored with a 2016 GLSEN Respect Award last evening at a ceremony in New York City for her work in representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on television. GLSEN is a national education organization that aims to ensure safe and affirming schools for all students. Since 2004, the GLSEN Respect Awards turn a spotlight on the work of those who serve as role models for LGBT youth with events in Los Angeles and New York each year.
"Empire" features a character named Jamal Lyon, a gay man. GLSEN notes that the show's depiction of Jamal has been called "groundbreaking and game changing for LGBT youth of color who often struggle to find positive depictions of people like themselves in media." Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal on the hit FOX series, presented Ilene with her GLSEN Respect Award last evening.
"It's been thrilling to see Jussie stand in solidarity with his LGBT brothers and sisters, and exhilarating to see him able to do so with the conviction that it lifts us all, and with the confidence that it doesn't in any way limit him or his opportunities as an artist," Ilene said in her remarks. "Just a few years ago, those triumphs seemed far off and unattainable. They no longer do. We're in the midst of an evolutionary change in our culture. But it didn't happen spontaneously, all on its own. It's a change that GLSEN has fought for over more than two decades. And it's a battle yet won. That's why we're here tonight in support of GLSEN."
After congratulating her fellow award winners last night, Ilene thanked Fox Television Group chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman and their colleagues for putting "Empire" on the air and strongly supporting the show.
Ilene closed her comments by urging the audience to continue supporting GLSEN. "Keep fighting for equality and dignity and a better future for LGBT youth and for everyone on the planet."
Prior to "Empire," Ilene created the critically acclaimed Showtime series "The L Word" in 2004, which portrayed LGBT characters.
ABC News personality George Stephanopoulos, actress and comedian Ali Wentworth, and media agency Optimedia were also honored with 2016 GLSEN Respect Awards. Colorado teacher Amber Schweitzer was given GLSEN's Educator of the Year Award, and New York City's Academy for Young Writers Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) was given the GSA of the Year Award.
For more photos from the event, visit the 21CF Blog.
As Team Sky returned to the U.S. for the 2016 Amgen Tour of California, the team and its sponsor 21st Century Fox donated bikes, helmets, Team Sky shirts and more to the young members of the South Bay Boys & Girls Clubs in Los Angeles. The pro cyclists also spent the afternoon of May 11 guiding the kids from South Bay through a cycling confidence course, helping them get comfortable riding and giving them the tools they need to stay active and healthy. Team Sky has a long history of engaging fans on the issues of health and exercise, and 21CF has spearheaded those efforts during the team's visits to America.
The Boys & Girls Clubs provide after-school programs for young people in many of America's most underserved communities, and for many of the kids at South Bay, the bikes they received at the event were their first. Team Sky riders Andy Fenn, Peter Kennaugh, Lars Petter Nordhaug, Alex Peter and Danny Van Poppel, along with Fox volunteers, helped guide the kids through a cycling course, teaching them how to have a safe and enjoyable ride. Afterwards, the pros signed autographs and posed for pictures with Club members.
"We strive to help our youth reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens," said Viridiana Yahuaca, who directs the South Bay Club. "With any program that we run, we keep one thing in mind: our kids continue to be the future."
The event built upon previous partnerships among 21CF, Team Sky and Boys & Girls Clubs, including last year's SoulCycle | Team Sky Pro Challenge. Team Sky members Ian Boswell and Danny Pate, as well as FOX Sports reporter Jenny Taft, led a high energy spin class at SoulCycle Beverly Hills to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 21CF also donated bikes, equipment and Team Sky gear to several Los Angeles area clubs.
This emphasis on teamwork and inclusivity has long been characteristic of both Team Sky's athletic training and its outreach efforts. Its popular SkyRide events, for example, inspire Team Sky supporters to live healthier, more active lifestyles.
SkyRide began in 2009 to encourage fans to introduce regular exercise to their daily routines. The first event offered fans the chance to participate in a special traffic-free bike ride on a 15-kilometer route through London, and more than 65,000 people attended. The events have only grown in popularity since, and they now include dozens of partner rides in cities throughout the UK every year. Team Sky estimates that programs like these have inspired more than 1 million people in the UK to take up regular cycling.
Learn more about Team Sky, and cheer them on as they compete in this year's Amgen Tour of California.
Photos by Jonathan Moore for Getty Images.