US streaming service giant Netflix has established a $5.4 million endowed scholarship at Howard University to honor actor and graduate Chadwick Boseman.
The Chadwick A Boseman Memorial Scholarship will award full scholarships to students in the historically Black university's College of Fine Arts, which was named after the late actor in May, reports the Wahington Post.
"It is with immense pleasure and deep gratitude that we announce the creation of an endowed scholarship in honor of alumnus, Chadwick Boseman, whose life and contributions to the arts continues to inspire," said Howard University President Wayne Frederick.
"This scholarship embodies Chadwick's love for Howard, his passion for storytelling, and his willingness to support future generations of Howard students. I am thankful for the continuous support and partnership of Chadwick's wife, Simone Ledward Boseman, and to Netflix for this important gift," he added.
The first scholarships will be awarded this fall to one recipient in each class, and will subsequently be distributed to an incoming freshman on an annual basis. The scholarship will focus on students who exemplify exceptional skills in the arts and who demonstrate financial need, with preference given to students in the dramatic arts who exemplify Boseman's values, specifically demonstrating a drive for excellence, leadership, respect, empathy and passion, a press release announcing the fund, said.
Sarah Long, a freshman in musical theatre; Shawn Smith, a sophomore studying acting; Janee Ferguson, a junior in theatre arts administration; and senior Deirdre Dunkin who studies dance are the inaugural class of awardees.
Starting next year, a first-year student will be selected annually for the scholarship, which covers full tuition for four years — a total of about $113,800. The award targets students who "exemplify exceptional skills in the arts reminiscent of Mr. Boseman" and demonstrate a financial need, officials said.
"Many exemplary artists are not afforded the opportunity to pursue higher learning, we hope to support as many students as possible by removing the financial barrier to education," the actor's wife, Simone Ledward-Boseman, said in a statement.
"This endowment represents Chad's devotion to the craft, his compassion for others, and his desire to support future storytellers," she said.
"While he was taken from us too soon, his spirit is with us always in his work and the good that he has inspired," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-chief executive and chief content officer.
"He always spoke of his time at Howard and the positive way it shaped his life and career. Now, we will have the opportunity to give many future superheroes a chance to experience the same," Sarandos added.
Chadwick Boseman is widely known for playing the titular character and hero of Marvel's "Black Panther." But his legacy rests largely in his sensitive portrayal of Black icons — from Jackie Robinson in "42" to James Brown in "Get On Up" and Thurgood Marshall in "Marshall." The actor, writer, director and producer died in August 2020 of colon cancer. He was 43 years old.
Before he graced movie screens, Boseman was a Howard student. It was there he befriended Howard graduate and "The Cosby Show" actress Phylicia Rashad — now dean of the school that bears Boseman's name. Rashad became one of Boseman's mentors and helped him secure funding for a summer acting programme at Oxford University.
A native of South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard in 2000 with a bachelor of fine arts in directing. He delivered the university's commencement address in 2018, in which he applauded activism on campus and encouraged students to find a purpose, not just a job.
"Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history," he told the graduating class.