Film producer Ted Hope to co-lead new entertainment program at ASU Thunderbird

Innovative LA-based master's degree in leadership, management and creative processes featured at ASU's Sidney Poitier New American Film School

March 23, 2021

Ted Hope, the former co-head at Amazon Movies, will join Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management as the marquee professor of practice in the new Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Management in the Creative Industries (MGCI). Powered by Thunderbird, the MGCI is a collaborative effort between two ASU colleges, linked together through the Sidney Poitier New American Film School. 

The unique graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building. The MGCI is designed for learners interested in pursuing global leadership and management careers in entertainment, film/television/new media, music, VR/XR/MR, gaming, design, dance, fashion, theater, sports, themed entertainment and the arts. The program is both for managers who want to learn creative competencies and for creatives seeking management expertise. Ted Hope, the former Co-Head at Amazon Movies, will join Arizona State University as a professor of practice based in the new ASU California Center Ted Hope, the former co-head at Amazon Movies, will join Thunderbird and the Herberger Institute as a professor of practice based in the new ASU California Center. Download Full Image

As a professor of practice, Hope will share his 30-plus years of experience directly with students, tapping his expertise in development, production and executive stewardship along with a distinct inner-working knowledge of streaming services and the entertainment industry as a whole.

Starting with the 2021 fall semester, Hope will co-teach the leadoff class of the MGCI and will teach experienced professionals in Thunderbird Executive Education courses and in select undergraduate courses in the Sidney Poitier New American Film School, which is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Additionally, Hope will spearhead a burgeoning ASU Film Spark Global Vision Lab, which is being designed to spur tomorrow's business and content innovations while fostering a more diverse, equitable and inclusive industry workforce.

Hope, whose initial engagement with the university was through ASU Film Spark, was inspired by ASU’s commitment to access and inclusion, reflected in the ASU Charter, and the university’s No. 1 ranking as the most innovative in the nation.

“The evolution of the creative industries continues to move on a seismic scale, requiring new outlooks, practices and processes, and on an increasingly more urgent basis,” Hope said. “The various creative communities I have been fortunate to be part of over these three decades in the film business have guided and mentored me in profound ways, inspiring me to do the same for others. Thunderbird, Herberger Institute, ASU and I share the same mission to not just always be learning and innovating but to make sure we measure ourselves on how inclusive we can be. Big change is coming and we are all going to be better prepared for it. I thought I had big ideas, but Thunderbird’s dwarf mine, yet together I think we will spark a bonfire of opportunity. Watch this space!”

Hope led Amazon’s entry into feature-film production and acquisitions, overseeing Oscar-winning films “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Salesman” as well as this year’s Academy Award-nominated “Sound of Metal” and the documentary “Time.” He is recognized for producing over 70 independent films over the last few decades, and currently has multiple new film releases in production, including “The Tender Bar” starring Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan and Lily Rabe and directed by George Clooney, the documentary “Invisible Nation” directed by Vanessa Hope, and “Cassandro” starring Gael García Bernal and directed by Oscar-winning director Roger Ross Williams.

The unique graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building.

The MGCI graduate degree program will begin in the 2021 fall semester in downtown Los Angeles at the ASU California Center in the historic Herald Examiner building.

Hope has long had an interest in education and thought leadership, having served as executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, where he created the Artist to Entrepreneur program, and as a founder of NYU’s Cinema Research Institute. His book, “Hope for Film: A Producer’s Journey Across the Revolutions of Indie Film and Global Streaming,” is a bestseller on college campuses and is in its second edition.

"Ted Hope is a unicorn — a vanguard global entertainment executive, a legend of independent film, and so much more,” said Sanjeev Khagram, Thunderbird director general and dean. “He’ll use his visionary storytelling talents and deep practical and entrepreneurial experience to help us produce a graduate degree like no other in the world while giving our students invaluable insights into 21st-century creative processes and enterprises.

“The MGCI program is based in the global creative capital of the world, Los Angeles, as ASU opens the revitalized Herald Examiner building and a key pillar of Thunderbird’s LA Regional Center of Excellence," Khagram said. "Our students will have access to cutting-edge learning and networking opportunities with thriving enterprises across the multimedia landscape along with expert faculty like Ted Hope to guide them into a future of their imagining."

The collaboration of ASU’s Thunderbird School and the Herberger Institute is designed to provide new, affordable, local options and innovative programs like the MGCI and related Film Spark events, intended to serve global learners and provide greater access to opportunity.

“We are combining the global leadership of Thunderbird with the largest comprehensive design and arts college in America to offer a first-of-its-kind degree — preparing graduates to lead and manage creative teams in one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic global sectors of our economy,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean and director of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “Ted Hope is an innovator and a perfect fit to help launch this exciting collaboration.”

Apply or get more information on Thunderbird’s MGCI degree.

Jonathan Ward

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Messaging, Thunderbird School of Global Management


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ASU names film school after trailblazing actor and filmmaker Sidney Poitier

January 25, 2021

Move is part of a commitment to diversity in storytelling and storytellers

Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2021 year in review.

Arizona State University has renamed its film school after Hollywood icon Sidney Poitier, the first Black man to win the Academy Award for best actor.

The move signifies the university’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity, according to ASU President Michael Crow. 

“Arizona State University is deeply committed to the premise of inclusivity, and The Sidney Poitier New American Film School is an extension of that impact in an area of academic pursuit that will be advanced by representation of greater diversity and perspective,” he said. 

“What we’re doing here is not just recognizing Sidney Poitier for his lifetime of achievements and his legacy, but naming our New American Film School for a person that embodies that which we strive to be — the matching of excellence and drive and passion with social purpose and social outcomes, all the things his career has stood for.”

The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, with nearly 700 students, is one of five schools in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU. The school will soon add two locations besides its current home on the Tempe campus: a new state-of-the-art facility in downtown Mesa that will be completed in fall 2022 and that will be the primary home for the film school, and ASU’s new center in downtown Los Angeles that will open later this year. 

Poitier, who is now 93, is known for breaking racial barriers and embodying characters with dignity and wisdom. He won the Oscar for his role in the 1963 film “Lilies of the Field,” which was set and filmed in Arizona. He also was the first Black actor nominated for a best actor Academy Award for the 1958 movie “The Defiant Ones.” 

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier was the first Black performer to win the Oscar for best actor, for 1963's "Lilies of the Field."

Many of Poitier’s movies addressed race, starting with “No Way Out,” a 1950 film in which he played a doctor who had to treat two white racists. In 1967 alone, he starred in three hit movies dealing with racial tensions: “To Sir, with Love,” “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night.” 

He later went on to direct several movies, including “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Stir Crazy.” 

Poitier, who grew up in the Bahamas before moving to the United States, served as the Bahamian ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 2007.

“Sidney Poitier is a national hero and international icon whose talents and character have defined ethical and inclusive filmmaking,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU.

“His legacy will serve as a guide and inspiration for our school and the thousands of film students we educate.”

The school naming was revealed during a celebration video that was released Monday, featuring remarks by many in the ASU community, film industry icons and three of Poitier’s six daughters. 

Beverly Poitier-Henderson said: “It’s fitting that ASU is embracing his work ethic and embracing his commitment to truth and his commitment to the arts and his commitment to education. We’re very happy. He’s very happy.”

Poitier-Henderson talked about how her father was often mobbed by fans when he went out, which was not always appreciated by his daughters when they were young. Once, the family was at Disneyland and when fans started to crowd around, asking, “Is that Sidney Poitier?” his annoyed daughters said, “No, he just looks like him.” 

Their father discovered what they were doing and told them to stop. 

“He told us that these were the people who put us and him where he was, so we had to respect that,” she said.

Anika Poitier is a director and actor.

“It’s really important to have diversity in the stories that we tell, and they need to be told by the people who are living these stories — and that’s a huge problem in this industry,” she said.

“There are so many stories about Black people and brown people and women that are not told by the people who have lived these stories, and to deny their perspective is dangerous.”

Anika Poitier said she hopes The Sidney Poitier New American Film School will encourage students to tell their stories and provide a platform to share them.

“Because I think that it’s what the world needs desperately right now.”

Sydney Poitier Heartsong, an actor and producer, said that her father wanted Black people to have opportunities in all aspects of the film industry.

“I know at the time, the thing that angered him the most was that he was the only one. He was the only one standing up there. He was the only one with an Academy Award. And he fought so that others could be included as well,” she said.

“He wanted to see his story and his likeness represented on the screen, and he was also keenly aware of the fact that that wasn’t going to fully happen, in the way that it should, unless there were people also behind the camera.”

Several current ASU film students also spoke on the video, describing how important it is for people to tell their own stories.

Sidney Poitier

According to his daughter Sydney Poitier Heartsong, the two most important things to Sidney Poitier are education and the arts, a marriage found at ASU's film school.

Serena Hoskyns said that once she was on campus, she knew she was doing what she was supposed to.

“There’s a responsibility in film,” she said. “We influence so much of the world, and with the tropes and stories and things that have been left in place, it’s time for an emerging generation to show growth.”

In the video, Michael Burns, an ASU alumnus and now the vice chairman of Lionsgate entertainment studio, said that change in the film industry is long overdue.

“I also know that this naming is more than just a moment in time. It signals a transformative cultural shift in our nation,” he said. “Sidney Poitier is a hero and a role model whose example will ignite the energies of countless students.”

Tiffany Ana López, the new vice provost for inclusion and community engagement at ASU, said that, like many students in The Sidney Poitier New American Film School, she was the first in her family to attend college.

“I understand that for so many of our students, if they can’t see it, they can’t be it,” she said.

“It’s very meaningful that this is a film school that looks, acts and works like no other, a film school now named for a historic innovator in his field, someone constantly pushing for a level of excellence that’s informed by thinking about social justice and community,” said López, the former director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute.

Among the celebrities on the video was actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, a close friend of Poitier.

“Sidney is not only a fine artist but also a dear human being and a wonderful American citizen,” he said. “Thank you, Arizona State.”

Actor John Lithgow noted that many university institutions are named for people whose achievements have faded from memory. 

“That will never happen to you, Sidney. You are one of our founding fathers,” he said.

“ASU is honoring you. But you are honoring ASU.”

Top photo of Sidney Poitier courtesy Getty Images

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News