Vandy in Hollywood launches scholarship fund

The new fund aims to eliminate financial barriers for students interested in pursuing summer media internships in Los Angeles.

Graphic depicting a Vanderbilt student trying to make it in Hollywood. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

Lexie Perez

Graphic depicting a Vanderbilt student trying to make it in Hollywood. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

Eigen Escario, Staff Writer, Photographer and Podcaster

Students applying for the Vandy in Hollywood (ViH) Internship this year will have access to the program’s new scholarship fund, which aims to remove financial barriers for applicants, according to its founders. Richard Hull (‘92), who co-founded the internship program with fellow alumnus Chad Gervich (‘96) in 2006, established the scholarship with his wife Kelly Straub Hull to give back to the Vanderbilt community. 

According to Hull and Gervich, ViH is designed to connect students with internships in Hollywood. The program accepts a cohort of about 30 students per year, all of whom get access to exclusive mentorship, access to events and networking opportunities. According to Gervich and Hull, prior to this year, only 3-4 scholarships were handed out for every ViH cohort. These funds previously came from donations funded by alumni and parents. With the new scholarship fund, the program is now able to give out scholarships to any ViH intern who demonstrates financial need. 

“It’s independent of FAFSA,” Mia Clermont, Employer Relations Specialist at the Career Center who is briefed on the funding process spoke about how they calculate the scholarship award. “The statement ‘demonstrated financial need’ refers to one’s ability to pay (or not be able to pay) for room & board, meals, etc., during their internship.”

“This new scholarship program is special because it is endowed,” Gervich said. “It is a really large chunk of money, so we never have to touch it — just use the interest that comes out of it.”

Hull said ViH performed a cumulative, informal survey of past ViH interns who lived in LA to estimate their aggregate cost of living, including rent, food, transportation costs and other expenses. Based on these results, scholarships will range from $4,000-$6,000, which is intended to cover these costs. Interns who select the in-person internship option still need to find their own living accommodations in LA.

Gervich states this initiative is important in leveling the playing field among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. He said connections in Hollywood are quintessential to success, and resources and significant investment are required for such networking.

“Hollywood is an industry — you will never ever get a job in Hollywood because you have the best resume or the most talented,” Gervich said. “Those are helpful, but you’re going to get [a] job by knowing someone.”

Former ViH intern Hannah Fasick (‘12) is now a freelance director and screenwriter in Hollywood. She said the program’s resources and connections helped in her career.

“Introductions like those made through the Vanderbilt in Hollywood program allow students to learn about careers in the field of entertainment, prove themselves through enthusiasm, talent and diligence and, thus, develop their own relationships to earn other highly sought-after film and television jobs,” Fasick said.

Kyra Levenson, former ViH intern (‘20), now works as a marketing strategist for Paramount, said her leap toward media was “definitely risky.”

“Two of my three internships were unpaid, so there was a significant investment made on my [and] my family’s part,” Levenson said. “Furthermore, entertainment almost always recruits as roles open up as opposed to on a regular/annual cycle, so knowing what would be available and when is hard to predict.”

Senior Lindsey Carroll was also part of the ViH program last summer. She said the new scholarship fund is a much-needed expansion for the internship program.

“I think it’s amazing that the Vandy in Hollywood Scholarship Fund is now available because it will, without a doubt, make it possible for more students than ever before to have the same life-changing experiences in Hollywood that I had,” Carroll said.

Hull said that students who have a passion for storytelling should consider applying to the program.

“Some of the best interns we’ve ever had are not Cinema and Media Arts majors,” Hull said. “[Applicants should be] people that just want to indulge the idea that maybe they would like to be storytellers in some form or fashion in their careers.”