With college commitment dates looming and financial aid packages rolling out, it is an interesting time to spotlight decision stories that slipped through the cracks for LMU’s class of 2024. Lianne Sauvage, freshman communications and humanities major, is the first ever recipient of Netflix’s full ride scholarship. The scholarship is a part of Women in Entertainment (WIE), a program that seeks to provide low-income, high achieving high school students with entertainment professionals. Today, she describes the process involved in getting her scholarship and her freshman experience thus far.
Alexis SooHoo (A.S.): Can you describe what Women in Entertainment (WIE) is and how you got involved with the program?
Lianne Sauvage (L.S.): It was a little bit different for me. So, as an immigrant, I moved here at 14 to Downtown L.A. So when I started high school in the U.S., I really didn't know anything about the college application process because it's so different as compared to the Philippines. I got into this program called WIE; it’s the partnership between [Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles] and "The Hollywood Reporter." The premise of the program is they pair high school junior girls with certain people in the entertainment industry.
I was officially in the program from January 2020 to December 2020. I was partnered with a mentor and received a lot of resources with college applications that I wouldn’t have gotten through my high school because it’s a Title I school. Title I basically covers schools that fall so far under the poverty line that they get extra funding. Unfortunately, Belmont High School didn’t have enough, so it was really the WIE people that came in and helped with my application essays senior year.
A.S.: How did the program set you up and why did you pick LMU?
L.S.: LMU has a partnership with WIE, where whatever money the organization raises, LMU will match it. In my case, my donor was Netflix and they contributed $125,000 and LMU promised that the rest would be made up in financial aid. Because of the way the program is set up, my admittance to LMU was binding and I didn’t apply to any other schools. Not that it mattered, because LMU is my dream school. It fits my needs academically and provides me amazing connections with people in entertainment around L.A. There are people who had less binding deals with WIE though, and my fellow cohort is spread out around UCLA, Berkeley and some other East Coast schools.
A.S.: How has your freshman experience been, coming from a Title I school and adjusting to LMU’s unique student body?
L.S.: Yeah, it's definitely a culture shock. Coming from Belmont High School, it was a predominantly Latino school, I was one — of two white people and I’m only half white. Coming to a predominantly white institution, there is a lot of ignorance that I guess it can’t be helped, because I feel like a lot of life lessons are learned through experience. In classes there are some awkward comments, some tone deaf comments. However, my teachers have been really, really supportive and I never felt like I couldn't reach out to my professors. I also feel like most of my professors are really accommodating and really understanding when it comes to personal and family problems. So, I don't see like much of, I guess, a class divide when it comes to that because teachers are still very, very understanding.
A.S.: Considering your half-Filipino heritage, do you have thoughts or reflections about the recent attacks on the AAPI community?
L.S.: I mean, obviously I think it's horrifying. My mom looks very, very Asian and she's very, very small and I'm happy that she hasn't been victimized. It's a topic that feels very personal to me. For example, on Instagram, I saw one of my favorite Filipino restaurants get like trashed. There were rocks thrown at them and it had been vandalized. It hits very close to home, but at the same time, being white passing I recognize my privilege and realize I don’t have to go through it nearly the same way.
LMU and WIE have been working together for the last 11 years, providing finanical aid, application workshops and entertainment mentorships for women at Title I high schools. Sauvage’s application cycle was the first year Netflix has partnered with the program and we hope to see future Netflix scholars at the school as well. Watch Sauvage’s acceptance at the exclusive "The Hollywood Reporter" event here.