The short version of the story goes... while doing some location scouting for Hannibal, 8 years ago, in the Dominican Republic, Vin Diesel met with then-president Leonel Fernandez at his request, to discuss ways to bring Hollywood and filmmaking in general to the island.
In response, Diesel told Fernandez that, while opening up a film studio in the country would be awesome, it wouldn't do much good if there's no one there to instruct the people. And thus, Diesel launched the One Race Global Film Foundation (named after his One Race Films production company), whose programs include a summer Intensive film workshop that's said to be modeled after the Media Workshop that Diesel's stepfather, Irving Vincent, teaches at NYU.
I didn't not even know his father taught at NYU.
And 8 years later, one of One Race Global Film Foundation's first students, Maria Victoria Hernandez, who was 16 years old then, and is now 23, is a writer and director in her own right, with production credits in the Dominican Republic, Spain and the USA. Hernandez is said to be now considering producing a short documentary series about a youth orchestra in the DR, while continuing to volunteer with fellow alumni at One Race.
As Variety notes, the One Race program has made tremendous strides over the last 8 years, training 210 young filmmakers, many going on to study at NYU.
In addition, One Race also partnered with Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti to bring 5 Haitian students into the program, and the initiative has now expanded to include students from Guadeloupe, Trinidad and Tobago, Senegal, Yemen, Pakistan, and Israel, which is great!
Currently, part of the students' curriculum includes collaboration on projects that include a 30-second commercial, a 10-minute TV segment they host themselves, and two short films.
“Our biggest priority is putting a camera in their hand on day one... Every student comes out a filmmaker,” says Samantha Vincent, Diesel’s sister and a board member at One Race.
And since Diesel planted seeds in the DR 8 years ago, it's reported that some 80% of the staff at both the local Festival de Cine Global Dominicano and the Instituto Global de Multimedia, both formed after Diesel's initiative launch, have come through the One Race Global Film Foundation, which, by the way, has been funded almost entirely by Diesel, from his own bank account, with additional resources provided by President Fernandez’s Funglode Foundation.
“It’s not just about giving money, it’s about teaching people to fish,” Samantha Vincent says.
Just a little something about Vin Diesel that I don't think is widely-known, that I thought was worth sharing.