Former Congresswoman Diane E. Watson smiled broadly as she cut the ribbon on a new 1,600 square foot soundstage training facility at West Los Angeles College that bears her name and will help students, who would not otherwise have access to lucrative Hollywood behind-the-scenes trade positions, get into the industry.
Already, West’s Film / Television Production Crafts program has students interning and working on productions including Star Wars and Bob Hearts Abishola. With this new facility made possible by an earmark Watson secured along with voter-approved bond funds, West can serve more students and provide an even more real-world training experience.
WLAC President James M. Limbaugh explained in his remarks, “In 2008, two years before she retired, Congresswoman Watson went to bat for West and went to bat in a big way securing two grants totaling $2.5 million for the campus to drive job training in the entertainment industry trades. Not only did this help facilitate Hollywood CPR becoming a permanent, institutionalized program housed on our campus, it also was the seed money, along with voter-approved bond funds that made this amazing facility possible.” Watson was serving as Chair of the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus at the time.
“Looking at this facility – this professional level sound stage and trade shops” said Watson, “seeing the diverse student body and hearing all of the positive reports about the program and the success of the alumni moves me. I am honored to have contributed to the success of the program and to have this center bear my name.”
Jacqueline Hamilton and Shetarrah Byfield, representing Congresswoman Karen Bass and Assemblymember Brian Isacc, presented proclamations congratulating the college and praising Watson. Other speakers included Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustee Dr. Gabriel Buelna, LACCD Chancellor Dr. Francisco C. Rodriguez and LACCD Vice Chancellor / Chief Facilities Executive Dr. Rueben Smith.
A tribute to Professor Laura Peterson was also part of the program. Peterson was a co-founder of the film/tv production program and a force in the growth and success of the program as well as the realization of the Watson Center. Peterson died several weeks before the facility opened.
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