There was not a dry eye in the room when Angelina Jolie presented not one, but two full-ride scholarships for Loyola Marymount University during The Hollywood Reporter’s 23rd Annual Women in Entertainment breakfast on Dec. 8 at Milk Studios. Melissa Sandoval and Megan Castillo – LMU class of 2019 – will join last year’s LMU/WIE Scholarship recipients, freshmen Paolo Franco and Melissa Martinez, in becoming the first members of their families to attend college. All four scholarship winners are high-achieving teenage girls who completed the Women in Entertainment Mentorship program, a partnership between the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles and The Hollywood Reporter.
“It was an incredibly tough decision for the committee to choose the two LMU/WIE Scholarship recipients. It really came down to making two dreams come true,” said Stacy Barnes, SFTV’s director of development. “Both Melissa and Megan wrote eloquently in their essays how LMU was their dream university and what our mission meant to them. We know their commitment to service and leadership will be a tremendous asset to our student body.”
Melissa and Megan credited their mentors with helping them to achieve this milestone. Melissa’s mentor was Janice Marinelli, president of Disney’s in-home and digital distribution efforts, and Megan’s mentor was Shana Waterman, a former senior vice president at FOX Television. Both helped the girls study for SAT’s, prepare college applications and by providing life guidance.
Of course, it was also a thrill for the girls to receive the news and a hug from the Oscar-winning Jolie. “She is my dad’s favorite actress,” said Melissa. (Just wait until he hears!) Among the many other inspirational women at the breakfast were Shonda Rhimes, recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award; Melissa Rivers and Sarah Silverman, who presented a tribute to the late “brave” comedienne Joan Rivers, and a couple of men, too, including Jay Leno.
The scholarships are made possible through the generosity of several donors: Associated Television International founder David McKenzie and his wife Laura, and through the philanthropy of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. The LMU/WIE Scholarships are awarded in partnership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, The Hollywood Reporter, and LMU School of Film and Television.