Filmmaker Robert Townsend Encourages CSUN Students to Follow Their Dreams

  • Robert Townsend tells students to follow their dreams and not to be discouraged by others. Photo by David Hawkins.

  • CSUN students and faculty, as well as people from the community, join the screening of Hollywood Shuffle in the Armer Theater on Feb. 8. Photo by David Hawkins.

  • Robert Townsend speaks at a Q&A after the screening of his movie Hollywood Shuffle. Photo by David Hawkins.

  • Robert Townsend talks to students after his Q&A on Feb. 8 in the Armer Theater. Photo by David Hawkins.

  • (L-R) Sylvia Macauley, department chair of Africana studies; Robert Townsend , actor, director and comedian; Frances Gateward, CTVA Professor in Media Theory; Nate Thomas, CTVA Professor and Film Production Option Head; Theresa White, professor in Africana Studies. Photo by David Hawkins.

Actor and comedian Robert Townsend visited California State University, Northridge on Feb. 8 for a screening of his Hollywood satire, Hollywood Shuffle, in the Armer Theater. Townsend, who is also an acclaimed director and producer, received an honorary doctorate in fine arts from CSUN in May 2015.

Sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and the Department of Cinema and Television Arts, Townsend is presenting a series of his movies on Monday evenings throughout Black History Month at CSUN.

“I was pleased with the outcome of the event, not only because of the number of CSUN students who showed up, but also the number of people from the community who were in attendance,” said Sylvia Macauley, chair of the Department of Africana Studies. “One lady said she came all the way from Moreno Valley just to attend the event, and that was her first time on CSUN’s campus. So, we are making an impact on the community as well.”

In Hollywood Shuffle, Townsend thematized the stereotypical depictions of African-Americans on the silver screen. After the screening at CSUN, he shared his own disheartening experiences as an African-American filmmaker in the movie industry.

“Instead of getting bitter, I decided to make a movie about it,” he said. “But there are always people that won’t be happy for you.”

He also encouraged students  — no matter what age, race or major — to follow their dreams and to disregard discouraging words from others.

“The only thing that can stop you from going after your future is fear,” he said.

“He had very inspiring words of advice,” Macauley said. “There is a lot that all CSUN students could learn from [his] success story.”

The next screenings in the series will be The Five Heartbeats on Feb. 15, The Meteor Man on Feb. 22 and 10,000 Black Men Named George on Feb. 29. All screenings are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Armer Theater and will include a Q&A with Townsend. Reservations are required.

For more information on Black History Month, visit or contact Cedric Hackett, chair of Black History Month, at 818-677-3311.

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