Last year, Tisch named Pharrell Williams, iconic performer, singer and entrepreneur, as its artist-in-residence. The artist-in-residence program has been running for 50 years and has brought some major players to Washington Square, featuring numerous artists with enormous bodies of work in film, theatre and music. However, although television production is popular, the university has not brought any mainstream artist that appears in either late-night, primetime or daytime television. This absence is one of the major shortcomings of the program, and a celebrity presence from television can undoubtedly be a great resource for current and future students, particularly when it comes to addressing issues of representation.
Film and theatre are overwhelmingly popular at NYU. Within the artistic community, NYU is exceptionally well-represented, not only for the quality of work that the student body puts forth, but also for the number of awards they take home by the end of the night. The university is also known for its excellence in pursuing careers on Broadway or in the major motion film business. However, when it comes to programs in both entertainment and informative shows, NYU falls well behind peer institutions such as Syracuse University, USC, Northeastern and Boston College. As part of Tisch, the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television has the potential to become a powerhouse in the television business. Given both NYU’s prime location in the heart of New York City and the greater university brand, it is high time the university cash in on its greatest assets.
Having celebrities on staff, in whatever capacity, is valuable because celebrities pique the interests of the most passionate and career-driven prospective students. For anyone hoping to break into the arts and entertainment industry, attending school in New York City is already a dream come true. But getting the chance to take a class from the likes of Pharrell Williams and Spike Lee, among other big names, can go a long way to draw students even further in.
In terms of media forms that need work addressing diversity, television is a particularly important field. Not only are issues of diversity becoming hot-button issues, but unlike movies and plays, which are grand one-time affairs, television is delivered as a slow drip to consumers. As such, it is especially important to consider the messages that television presents. Nowadays, we have television shows such as Fox’s “Empire” and NBC’s “Shades of Blue” that not only entertain millions of viewers, but also touch on social issues that are often overlooked. NYU is in a unique and incredible position to make an impact on the television world, and celebrity pull should be an important part of that position.
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Email Tegan Joseph Mosugu at [email protected]