Photo of Forest WhitakerForest Whitaker

Robert Redford Award for Engaged Artists

Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award-winning actor, producer, and director who is critically acclaimed for his work in film and television. He is also a philanthropist, social activist, and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation. In 2012, he founded the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), which promotes the values of peace, reconciliation, and social development within communities impacted by conflict and violence. He received an honorary doctorate at USC in 2018.

Whitaker is most known for his performance in The Last King of Scotland, for which he received an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. His work in the film also garnered him over 33 award wins for best actor, including a Golden Globe Award, an Image Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BAFTA Film Award, a BET Award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, a National Board of Review Award, and a London Critics Circle Film Award.

In total, Whitaker has won an astounding 58 awards for his work in film and television, within his remarkable 114 award nominations. To begin his extensive list, Forest’s first award win was the 1998 Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his work in Bird. He also received a Golden Globe nomination and Sant Jordi Award for his performance in the film. Additional awards for Whitaker include, but are not limited to, a National Board of Review Award for Pret-a-Porter, a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Deacons of Defense, an NAACP Image Award for The Butler, a PGA award, and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award. In 2006, Whitaker received the Hollywood Actor of the Year award at the annual Hollywood Film Festival, and in 2007, Whitaker was honored with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Photo of Michele Engemann Michele Dedeaux Engemann

Alumni Service Award

Michele Dedeaux Engemann is a philanthropist, actor and businesswoman who was elected to the USC Board of Trustees in 2012. Part of a three-generation Trojan family — both of her parents graduated from USC, as did her sister, two brothers, a daughter and a son — Engemann is also the daughter of legendary Trojan baseball coach Rod Dedeaux.

Michele Engemann has been a dedicated volunteer leader at the university for decades. Her leadership roles at USC include terms as president of the Trojan League of Los Angeles; chair of the USC Alumnae Coordinating Council, where she remains a lifetime board member and adviser; and as founding chair of the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ Board of Councilors, where she remains actively involved. She was president of the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors for 2007-08 and, in that capacity, previously served on the USC Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2011. She is a life member of Town and Gown of USC

After earning her bachelor’s degree in drama from USC, she went on to perform at the Nine O’Clock Players Theatre for Children, a nonprofit auxiliary of the Assistance League of Southern California that offers opportunities for children who have disabilities or who come from disadvantaged families to experience live theatre free of charge.

In the business realm, Engemann helped her husband build Roger Engemann and Associates, a money-management firm which was formed in 1969 and sold to Phoenix Investment Partners in 1997. She currently serves on the board of directors of Dart Entities, a family-run transportation and warehousing corporation established by her father in 1938.

Additional board memberships, past and present, include the Chandler School in Pasadena, the Assistance League of Southern California, the Nine O’Clock Players Theatre for Children and The Pasadena Playhouse, where she served as chair from 2008 to 2012.

She was honored with the USC Alumni Association’s Alumni Service Award in 2001 and was recognized as one of USC’s Women of Distinction in 2008. She received the Assistance League of Southern California’s Golden Eve Award in 2009, the Pasadena Arts Council’s Gold Crown award in 2010 and a “Woman of Distinction” award from the Pasadena Star-News and Rose Magazine in 2011.

Photo of Donald Webber JrDonald Webber Jr.

Broadway Spotlight Award

Donald Webber Jr. is one of only a few people to play both Hamilton and Burr in Hamilton on Broadway, in San Francisco, and in the Puerto Rico engagement — opposite Lin Manuel Miranda. Other Broadway credits include Motown the Musical, Holler If Ya Hear Me, and off-Broadway’s Whorl Inside a Loop. On television, he is known for his appearance in NBC’s The Wiz Live and had a recent guest spot on Punisher (Marvel/Netflix). He will next appear recurring in a new Apple TV+ series, opposite Ben Stiller.

Photo of Greg HolfordGreg Holford

Production Innovation Award

Greg Holford is an award-winning creative director and show director. He has successfully created and directed themed experiences and spectaculars all over the world for more than 35 years. His productions have spanned a variety of countries and venues, and have been developed and staged on behalf of many different organizations including more than 100 productions for world-class entertainment parks such Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and Paramount, as well as theatrical shows for leading U.S. and international corporations.

Recently, Holford was creative director of the Diriyah Gate Project in Riyadh, KSA that inaugurated the new UNESCO World Heritage Site. This spectacular set many world records for use of media projection, as well as introducing the first Pyro Drone and Blacktrax 360 Puppet. He also was creative director of a series of shows at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai for Amway China that featured the world’s first corporate Pyro Drone show.

His internationally renowned indoor spectacular, Fantasea of a Kingdom at Phuket Fantasea in Thailand, recently celebrated its 22nd year of production and remains one of the world’s most innovative blend of storytelling and technology.

Photo of Grant HeslovGrant Heslov and
Smokehouse Pictures

Corporate Leadership Award

Since launching Smokehouse Pictures, George Clooney and Grant Heslov have written, directed, and produced films including Good Night and Good Luck (nominated for six Academy Awards), Leatherheads, The Men Who Stare at Goats, The Ides of March, The Monuments Men, Argo (winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture), Money Monster, Our Brand Is Crisis, Suburbicon, and The Midnight Sky, as well as TV series including Catch-22, Trial By Media, and On Becoming a God in Central Florida. They are currently working on The Tender Bar based on the bestselling memoir by J.R Moehringer for Amazon Studios, with Clooney directing and producing and Heslov producing.

Heslov has been recognized for his work as a producer, writer, director and actor. Together with George Clooney, he is a partner in Smokehouse Pictures.

A four-time Oscar® nominee, Heslov received his latest Academy Award nod and a Best Picture win for producing the historical drama and thriller Argo. He also earned a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award, among many others.

Heslov previously earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 2011 political drama The Ides of March, which he co-wrote with Clooney. In addition, Heslov received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for the screenplay, as well as a PGA Award nomination as one of the film’s producers.

Heslov also earned dual Oscar® nominations, for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck, which he co-wrote with Clooney. For his work on the film, Heslov also won the Writers Guild of America, Paul Selvin Award and the PGA’s Stanley Kramer Award. Among the film’s numerous honors, Heslov also garnered two BAFTA Award nominations, for both Picture and Original Screenplay; a Golden Globe nomination for Best Screenplay; an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature; and a Screen Actors Guild Award® nomination as part of the ensemble cast.

In 2009, Heslov made his feature film directorial debut with The Men Who Stare at Goats — starring Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey.

He also served as co-creator and executive producer on the HBO series Unscripted, for which he directed half of the episodes, and a co-executive producer on K Street, also for HBO.

Heslov is also known for his acting work in both film and television.