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Academy Award-winning director, writer, producer and alumna Gina Prince-Bythewood to keynote the 76th annual commencement ceremony at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

Award-winning director, writer, producer and alumna Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King, The Old Guard) will deliver the keynote address at the school’s 76th annual commencement ceremony and scenic designer Rachel Hauck will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dean Kite will preside over the event to be held on Friday, June 16, 2023 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“We are thrilled to have Gina Prince-Bythewood as our commencement keynote speaker, especially considering her extraordinary and impactful directorial work in The Woman King,” proclaims Kite. “Gina, an exceptionally talented filmmaker and ardent advocate for promoting diversity across the industry, has been instrumental in emphasizing the crucial importance of incorporating diverse perspectives and narratives in shaping the future of the arts. We couldn’t have chosen a more fitting individual to guide and inspire our students as they embark on their next chapter.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood received her BA in Motion Picture-TV from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 1991. She is an award-winning director, writer and producer known for her films Love & Basketball (2000), The Secret Life of Bees (2008) and Beyond the Lights (2014). Prince-Bythewood most recently directed the critically-acclaimed film The Woman King (2022), receiving a BAFTA nomination for Best Director and an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture. The film, inspired by true events, follows the emotionally epic journey of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors, who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey. Prior to The Woman King, Prince-Bythewood directed the critically-acclaimed action-drama blockbuster film, The Old Guard (2020) based on a popular comic book series, becoming one of Netflix’s Top 10 most popular films of all time, marking Prince-Bythewood’s historic entry as the first Black female director on the list. Prince-Bythewood most recently directed the pilot and served as an Executive Producer of ABC’s limited series Woman of the Movement (2022), earning her an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series. Her upcoming television project will be Genius: MLK/X which will explore the formative years, pioneering accomplishments, dueling philosophies and key personal relationships of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. In March, Prince-Bythewood received the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker Award of the Year, which recognizes an artist who exemplifies distinguished achievement in the art and business of film.

 In recognizing Hauck, Kite says, “As a distinguished UCLA Theater alumna and a leading figure in scenic design, we are thrilled to honor Rachel Hauck and have her accept this award at commencement. Her exceptional talent and dedication to advancing design through her work with the Design Action Collective and the American Theatre Wing have made her a true standout in the industry. Rachel’s unique perspective and creative prowess will inspire our students, providing invaluable insights from one of the industry’s most accomplished professionals.”

Rachel Hauck received her BA in Theater from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in 1990. She is a scenic designer best known for her Tony award-winning work on the groundbreaking Broadway musical Hadestown which explores the intertwining of two mythic tales ­– those of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone. Her recent projects include Latin History for Morons starring John Leguizamo, Good Night, Oscar, Othello and Twelfth Night. Her innovative designs on Good Night, Oscar secured her both a Jeff Award and a 2023 Tony Award nomination. Beyond her Broadway success, Hauck is a recipient of prestigious awards that recognize her enduring commitment to success. These awards include the Princess Grace Foundation’s Faberge Award, a Lily Award for Excellence in Set Design and an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence. Hauck also serves as a founding member of Design Action Collective, an organization that aims to make a significant impact through design. She also holds a position on the Advisory Board for the American Theatre Wing, helping guide the future of American theater. For a decade, she lent her talents to the O’Neill Playwrights Conference as their resident Set Designer. In this role, she collaborated with over 70 playwrights, contributing to new works and further solidifying her integral role in the theater community.