Filmmaker and playwright David E. Talbert has a new initiative for aspiring Black filmmakers looking to establish careers in the film industry.

According to a news release, Talbert recently launched HBCU Next, a summer fellowship program for aspiring filmmakers from historically Black colleges and universities, at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The 57-year-old developed and funded the program alongside his wife and producing partner, Lyn Sisson-Talbert, to provide students of color with an educational experience at the private research university.

Through the program, participants will gain “essential career insights and the creative skills required to develop more authentic portrayals of Black experiences and culture within screenwriting, filmmaking, and the evolving media landscape,” according to the release.

Talbert said the initiative would allow students of color to gain the knowledge and necessary tools to be successful in the entertainment industry.

“Our overall objective is to foster an environment for students from HBCUs and USC to engage in cultural exchange, learning from one another’s experiences and backgrounds, and to provide access to an education conducive to giving Black storytellers a pipeline to the entertainment industry,” Talbert said, per the news release.

“Having graduated from an HBCU, and working in the business for over 30 years, I understand it’s never the artistry or intellect, but the access, that keeps people of Color from finding their way in. HBCU Next was created to bridge that gap. Our Next is now,” he added.

Elizabeth Daley, dean of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, praised Talbert for his commitment to fostering diverse voices in the highly anticipated program.

“As we embark on this transformative journey, guided by the expertise of our esteemed SCA faculty and Mr. Talbert, we are committed to fostering and amplifying the diverse voices and rich cultural narratives these talented HBCU students will bring to USC, and eventually to the industry. Without a doubt, they are the next generation of trailblazers,” Daley said, according to the release.

The following students were selected as participants in the HBCU Next program: directing/producing fellow Sha-Shonna Rogers and screenwriting fellow Imani Mullings, who both currently attend Morgan State University.

“HBCU Next was a once in a lifetime opportunity that gave us HBCU students a chance to shine,” Mullings said, per the release. “It enabled me to hone my skills as a writer, express myself through my storytelling, and made me feel even more excited for my future as a Black storyteller!”