Academy Launches Jonas Gwangwa Music Initiative for Black British Composers

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the launch of the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative, a program to help Black British musicians who are interested in developing a career in film composing.

The program begins in October and is in partnership with Mercury Studios. In celebration of the late South African musician, composer and Oscar nominee Jonas Gwangwa (“Cry Freedom”), the program will provide real-world experience, one-on-one mentorship and networking opportunities.

Part of the Academy’s ongoing Aperture 2025 global outreach and engagement efforts, the initiative aims to foster broader representation in film music composition, with an emphasis on Black British talent. The initiative was spearheaded by U.K.-based Academy members Gary Yershon (Music Branch), Misan Sagay (Writers Branch) and Nainita Desai (Music Branch).

“This initiative seeks to correct an imbalance. In contrast to the major contributions Black musicians are making to the music industry in the U.K., their presence in the U.K. film industry is significantly lacking,” said Yershon, Sagay and Desai in a statement. “Through this program, we seek to build community amongst Black artists in the U.K. by highlighting opportunities to bridge film and music careers.”

The program is open to U.K.-based Black artists and composers with at least three years of work experience as a musician.

Two participants will be chosen for the program and will receive access to Academy members across various branches in order to gain an understanding of the filmmaking process; one-on-one mentorship with a member of the Academy’s Music Branch to learn about the practical aspects of composing for film; access to Academy events and screenings in London; and introductions to leading practitioners from all areas of film music, among other mentorship programming.

Furthermore, participants will be matched with a filmmaker who is in the process of making a short film and will be given the opportunity to compose music for the film.

Two grants from Universal Music Group’s Mercury Studios, a full-service, global production film and television studio, and Decca Records will help fund the composition work.  Additional programming and support will be provided by Abbey Road Studios.

Applications for the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative are currently open. Visit  for more information.

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