The Ghetto Film School is a non-profit, independent film organization based in New York and Los Angeles that celebrates the “next generation of American story tellers.” It supports teens preparing to work in the film industry and led a partnership with the NYC Department of Education to open The Cinema School, the country’s first film high school.
The event, in its 10th year, celebrates cinematic education and awards scholarships to graduating seniors.
Daniels, famed director of The Butler, will direct a biopic about the late stand-up comedian Richard Pryor. He says he still has not found an actor for the lead role, despite there being talks of Michael B. Jordan, Marlon Wayans, and Eddie Murphy eyed for the film.
“The status of the Richard Pryor biopic is that we’re looking for Richard Pryor,” he said. “As soon as we have Richard Pryor, we’ll have the movie.”
He did not rule out Jordan or Wayans, leaving the mystery in what he calls “Hollywood secrets.”
What he does know for sure is the status of his upcoming show with Timbaland, Empire, scheduled to premiere in January on FOX.
“I’ve never had to collaborate before with a studio and a network, but it’s been a wonderful collaboration and I’m very excited about it,” he said. “We’re in your homes giving you a little bit of Dynasty, a little bit of The Sopranos, a little bit of Precious, all with music.”
As for Wilde, “I’m producing a film called Meadowland,” she said. “We’re shooting here in New York. Hopefully it will be at the festivals next year.” While Wilde will definitely be in the film, the rest of the cast is not finalized.
Both hosts hope to use their success in the industry to serve as mentors to film students.
Daniels said, “There were no mentors for me when I was growing up because there were no African-American film makers… There was nothing. I had no one to look up to. The biggest gift I have is to pass [my talent] on.”
A resident of New York, Wilde hopes to perhaps serve as a guest lecturer for The Cinema School.
“It would be something that would be extraordinary. None of us got to where we are without mentors, so to be able to offer that to a student would be an honor,” she said.
“I think [the Ghetto Film School] sparked my interest in childhood education, but also in education in general, specifically how young minds are shaped and the responsibility that other people have toward that.”
Wilde hopes to instill some ideas in the future of the film industry that she wishes someone had told her earlier on in her career.
“There’s no rush,” she said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There’s this idea in Hollywood that you need to find some kind of huge success by the age of like, 25.”
She continued, “You’re like ‘Oh, I have to be successful by the time I’m 30, or else I’m a failure!’ And that’s not true, especially in the arts.”
Above all, they offered two key pieces of advice to the students:
“Don’t believe the haters. Have perseverance.” -Oliva Wilde
“All things are possible.” -Lee Daniels
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty