Chadwick Boseman's legacy will continue to loom large: Howard University and Netflix have established a $5.4 million scholarship in the name of the late actor and awarded it to four students at his alma mater.
The university and the streaming giant said Monday that the four-year Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship will cover the full cost of tuition at Howard's College of Fine Arts, which was renamed after the "Black Panther" star earlier this year.
Netflix is the inaugural donor of the endowed scholarship, which was established with the help of the actor's widow, Simone Ledward-Boseman. Ledward-Boseman has become the de facto gatekeeper of Boseman's legacy and champion "of all present and future Boseman Scholars" at the Washington, D.C., university.
Boseman, a trailblazing actor, director, writer and producer, died in August 2020 at age 43 after a private battle with colon cancer. He was also nominated for a posthumous Oscar for his work in Netflix's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom."
"Many exemplary artists are not afforded the opportunity to pursue higher learning. We hope to support as many students as possible by removing the financial barrier to education. This endowment represents Chad's devotion to the craft, his compassion for others and his desire to support future storytellers," Ledward-Boseman said in a statement, adding, "I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the love and dedication shown by so many continuing to honor my husband's work. I know he'd be proud."
The inaugural class of awardees includes Sarah Long, a freshman in musical theater; Shawn Smith, a sophomore studying acting; Janee' Ferguson, a junior in theater arts administration; and senior Deirdre Dunkin, who studies dance. Preference for the scholarship, the university said, is given to students in the dramatic arts "who exemplify Boseman's values" and have demonstrated a drive for excellence, leadership, respect, empathy and passion.
"This scholarship embodies Chadwick's love for Howard, his passion for storytelling, and his willingness to support future generations of Howard students," Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, said in a statement.
"While he was taken from us too soon, his spirit is with us always in his work and the good that he has inspired," added Ted Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer. "He always spoke of his time at Howard and the positive way it shaped his life and career. Now, we will have the opportunity to give many future superheroes a chance to experience the same."