The Television Academy Foundation in the US has launched its new Diversity and Inclusion Unscripted Internship Program for Los Angeles-area college students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

The program was established with personal donations totaling $1 million from five leaders in reality-based television, including Rasha and Stephanie Drachkovitch, coFounders and coCEOs of 44 Blue Productions.

The other supporters are Cris Abrego, Chairman of the Americas, Banijay, President and CEO, Endemol Shine Holdings; Jim Berger, cofounder and Chairman of High Noon Entertainment and Strategic Advisor, ITV America; and Jonathan Murray, cofounder of Bunim/Murray Productions.

These unscripted production leaders have joined with the Television Academy Foundation to launch this unprecedented new internship program, designed to give underrepresented groups an opportunity to work in the reality TV business.

Five students will be selected by Television Academy members and the Foundation’s board of directors to participate in the program each year.

The Diversity and Inclusion Unscripted Internship Program was envisioned in 2017 with initial gifts from Abrego and Murray to create a talent pipeline for reality television. Jim Berger and Stephanie and Rasha Drachkovitch joined Abrego and Murray as founding donors of the program later that year.

In 2018 the Foundation partnered with the California State University Entertainment Alliance, an initiative that aims to provide a competitive edge to CSU students entering the entertainment industry by removing some of the financial and structural roadblocks encountered while trying to gain experience and establish a career in the business, to conduct a pilot of the program. Through this partnership, nine local college students were recruited for two pilot seasons of the internship program in 2019 and 2020.

The Television Academy Foundation was established in 1959 and is the charitable arm of the Television Academy. It is dedicated to preserving the legacy of television while educating and inspiring those who will shape its future.

44 Blue is a Peabody, Emmy, Gracie and GLAAD Award winning producer of unscripted, scripted and documentary series, with productions including Netflix’s top-ranking documentary series Jailbirds; Investigation Discovery’s #1-rated Twisted Sisters, executive produced with Khloé Kardashian; andAnimal Planet’s #1 series Pit Bulls and Parolees, which marked its 200th episode this month. New commissions include The Real Murders of Orange County, which premiered in November on Oxygen.

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Photo: Cris Abrego, CEO, Endemol Shine America, Jonathan Murray, Founder and Executive Consultant, Bunim-Murray Productions, and Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch, Co-CEO of 44 Blue Productions, pose with interns William Walker, Jr., Daniel Rivas, Caroline Buendia, Deborah Ochei, and Humberto Rivas at the Television Academy Foundation’s 2019 Faculty Seminar Conference, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019 at the Academy’s Saban Media Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision for The Television Academy/AP Images)