Filmmaker Julie Dash and Actor-Activist George Takei will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards

Two-time Golden Globe-nominated actor Pierce Brosnan has been named the 2019 commencement keynote speaker at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT). Filmmaker Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award in Film/Television/Digital Media and actor-activist George Takei (Allegiance) will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award in Theater. UCLA TFT Dean Teri Schwartz will preside over the event to be held on Friday, June 14 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

"We are delighted to welcome Pierce Brosnan, Julie Dash and George Takei as our 2019 Commencement Speaker and the recipients of our UCLA TFT 2019 Distinguished Alumni awards, respectively,” Schwartz says. “For Pierce Brosnan, his outstanding work as an actor in so many great films has inspired audiences worldwide. Just as important, Pierce's tireless dedication as an environmental and social impact activist has informed and galvanized people to action around the globe. I couldn't think of a more worthy artist to address our students to encourage them to use the power of humanistic story to not only entertain, but to enlighten, engage and inspire change for a better world. The same is true for the creative and social impact work that has distinguished the careers and lives of our UCLA TFT alumni Julie Dash and George Takei. They represent the very best of a UCLA TFT education. I am incredibly proud that they will represent the finest of our celebrated alumni this year at Commencement."

Brosnan is an actor, film producer, environmentalist, philanthropist, artist and two-time Golden Globe Award nominee known for his rich and extensive career in front of the camera and behind the scenes as a producer. He reinvigorated the popularity of the James Bond franchise by starring in the box-office blockbusters Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Among his many other film credits are Mamma Mia! and its sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again; The Foreigner; No Escape; Survivor; The Ghost Writer; Seraphim Falls and The Tailor of Panama as well as The Thomas Crown Affair, Grey Owl, Dante’s Peak, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Lawnmower Man and Mister Johnson. Along with his wife Keely Shaye, Brosnan has been drawn into a passionate leadership role for numerous environmental issues. Most recently, the two produced the documentary film Poisoning Paradise, which was released this month and directed by Shaye.

Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries in 1991 with her award-winning film Daughters of the Dust, becoming the first African-American woman to have a feature film theatrically released in the United States. In 2004, the Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures by the Library of Congress. Daughters of the Dust received the Best Cinematography prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991, and Dash is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including Guggenheim, Fulbright and Rockefeller fellowships, among many others. Dash was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for the critically acclaimed, NAACP Image Award-winning CBS movie The Rosa Parks Story. She has also directed TV movies for MTV, BET, Starz Encore and HBO. Recently, she has written for and directed multiple episodes of OWN’s Queen Sugar. Her upcoming projects include directing a Lionsgate biopic about civil-rights activist Angela Davis; the film adaptation of Danielle McGuire’s At the Dark End of the Street; and the documentary feature Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl. In addition to her work in film and television, Dash is a frequent lecturer at many leading universities, including Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Yale. She received her M.F.A. from the UCLA College of Fine Arts (now known as the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television) in 1985. At UCLA, Dash was a member of the historic L.A. Rebellion film movement, created by student filmmakers who crafted a new possibility for Black cinema, one that explored and related to the real lives of Black communities in the U.S. and around the world.

Takei is known around the world for his role in the acclaimed original TV series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. He has become one of the country's leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. Takei currently hosts the AARP-produced YouTube series Takei's Take, exploring the world of technology, trends, current events and pop culture, and is the subject of the documentary To Be Takei. On his own YouTube channel, Takei and his husband Brad Takei bring viewers into their personal lives in the "heightened reality" web series It Takeis Two. He will next be seen as a series regular in the second season of Ridley Scott's anthology drama The Terror, which premieres on AMC in August. In 2015, Takei made his Broadway debut in the musical Allegiance, which was inspired by his true-life experiences in two Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. In 2017, he starred in a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures in New York City. Takei has served as the spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign’s Coming Out Project and was Cultural Affairs Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League. He graduated from the UCLA College of Fine Arts with bachelor (’60) and master of arts (’64) degrees.

Posted: June 6, 2019