Jasmine Espy has been named the 2018–19 recipient of the Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) Fellowship in Film Criticism, a program that supports the next generation of film critics. Espy, who is working toward her master’s in the Specialized Journalism (The Arts) program, started courses this July during the seven-week summer digital news immersion.
The fellowship, a joint venture by USC Annenberg, USC School of Cinematic Arts and SPE, is the university’s first program specifically designed for aspiring film critics. Its goal is to ensure informed film criticism remains a vital part of contemporary journalism. Espy will be mentored by program director Sasha Anawalt, and be connected to not only Sony executives but a network of professional film critics working across Los Angeles, including Kenneth Turan, chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio.
“I’m very excited about working with Jasmine, who has taken an unconventional approach to film criticism and reporting in the past,” Anawalt said. “She brings a new energy, a real authority, and is keen to sharpen herself in all media, reporting on film with deliberate awareness of being a young African American woman.”
Back in Oak Park, Michigan, where Espy spent part of her childhood, her parents instilled an aptitude for reviewing films. Each week the family would go to the local MJR movie theatre, check out the latest film and discuss it over dinner afterward.
While earning her undergraduate degree in journalism from Wayne State University, Espy became interested in audio engineering and had the opportunity to test out a variety of roles in the studio, from editing to producing.
“I was really hungry to learn and figure out my place,” she said.
Espy received a Broadcast Film Critics Association Scholarship that provided support to start her own radio show called “Above the Line.” She invited artists and social influencers to watch movies with her and then review them together on air.
“This fellowship is a great opportunity to explore more than what I thought I could do,” Espy said. “I don’t come from a wealthy family so the Sony Fellowship changes my perspective about what I can do and what my options are. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running.”
At USC, Espy will have the opportunity to take courses at USC Annenberg as well as at the various art schools throughout the university. The arts journalism program is designed to ensure students graduate with writing, multimedia and digital storytelling skills, along with a breadth of hands-on experience.
Read more about the Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) fellowship here.