Meghan Trainor presented three high school girls with full-ride, four-year scholarships to Loyola Marymount University during The Hollywood Reporter's 24th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast on Wednesday (Dec. 9) at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.
Following an emotional video that highlighted the 15 girls who are near graduation from THR's Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, the "All About That Bass" singer, who just earned a Grammy nomination for best new artist, took the podium to hand out the three scholarships, whose value totals more than $600,000.
Taking the microphone to present the awards, Trainor said, "It's such an honor to be here," adding a comedic touch, "I gotta say two things before I start. One, I gotta pee so bad. Two, Melinda [Gates], you're such a boss."
Trainor presented the first full-ride scholarship on behalf of LMU to mentee Victoria Arevalo, which was followed by ICM Partners' generous $100,000 scholarship to recipient Larissa Ramirez. "LMU was so impressed with this year's mentees, it agreed to fully fund a third scholarship. This is the final one. That's it. This is the final scholarship of the day," Trainor announced of the third surprise full-ride scholarship from LMU, which was gifted to Laura Espita on behalf of the school of film and TV.
LMU's pledge of two, full-time scholarships to the 2015 mentees is a reflection of its ongoing commitment to provide a full-ride scholarship for at least one girl each year. In addition to the annual scholarship, LMU film school dean Stephen G. Ujlaki this year promised to match any funds THR raises for the mentees' education at the university, with up to $100,000 a year.
Each of the girls thanked the mentorship program, their mentors and the donors for the generous scholarships upon receiving the awards from Trainor. Wiping away tears, recipient Victoria said, "Thank you to The Hollywood Reporter and Big Brothers Big Sisters, everyone who made this possible for us. Thank you LMU. ... I'm pretty sick and I wasn't feeling well, but this made me feel so much better."
Additionally, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lifetime are funding additional grants that provide each mentee with a $10,000 university scholarship. BET co-founder Sheila Johnson and her chief of staff, Giardy Ritz, also have lent considerable financial support to another girl about to enter her second year at LMU.
The annual breakfast, which honors and celebrates the achievements of the 100 most powerful women in Hollywood and were recognized on THR's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list, welcomed the 15 girls who, for the past year, were mentored by leading movers and shakers in the entertainment industry.
"We pair underserved girls right here in the city and the most powerful women right here in Hollywood," president/chief creative officer, entertainment group Janice Min said in the video of the program.
The Women in Entertainment Mentorship Program, which has raised $2.4 million in scholarships since its start seven years ago, is a joint venture with the national nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters and selects 15 to 20 girls from inner-city schools each year and pairs them with top-level women in the entertainment business. The girls, who all begin the program as high school juniors from some of L.A.'s toughest schools, spend one afternoon every two weeks for a year with their mentors in what has proved to be a life-changing experience.
THR's 2015 Women in Entertainment Executive of the Year, Universal Pictures' Chairman Donna Langley, participated in the program as a mentor during its inaugural year and witnessed her mentee, 2010 scholarship recipient Aileen, graduate from U.C. Berkeley in June; Aileen is one of five mentees that became the program's first college graduates.
Trainor presented the scholarships in front of a packed A-list audience at the breakfast that included Shonda Rhimes, Sherry Lansing Leadership Award Recipient Barbra Streisand, keynote speaker Melinda Gates, Robert Redford, Sean Penn, Kris Jenner, Lea Michele, Lena Dunham, Kathy Griffin, Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Salke, Dana Walden, Nanci Ryder, Jeffrey Katzenberg and more.
The breakfast was presented by Lifetime and sponsored by Mercedes Benz, American Airlines, South Coast Plaza, SAG-AFTRA, FIJI Water, Gersh, Entertainment Industry Foundation and Loyola Marymount University.
"Congratulations to all of the beautiful girls. I'm so proud of you," Trainor congratulated the recipients.
This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.