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David Lyle Foundation names winners

The David Lyle Foundation, which helps young execs build successful careers in the international TV business, has announced the first winners of its annual scholarship programme.

Chris Sanders

Gabriella Lafor, production secretary at Argonon-owned prodco Like A Shot and Chris Sanders, senior development executive at the UK’s Zig Zag Productions, will take on the year-long scholarship initiative in 2020.

The David Lyle Foundation, the industry-wide not-for-profit organisation, awards two annual scholarships, each valued at US$10,000, to promising young entertainment-industry executives.

The foundation was launched earlier this year in memory of Lyle, the much-loved and respected entertainment industry executive who died in 2017 and was a mentor to many in the industry globally during his 40-year career.

Lafor and Sanders will receive a one-year programme of education and development designed to fast-track their understanding of the global television-content business.

They will then document their year-long journey with a series of posts on the Foundation website, allowing the community to follow their progress.

The programme’s founding partners, all of which will provide financial and operational support to the Foundation, include Broadcast, C21Media, Edinburgh TV Festival, EMC, FRAPA, Realscreen, NPACT, PACT, NATPE, TBI and Reed MIDEM.

Gabriella Lafor

Lafor said: “I’m all about revolution – be that in the nature and platforms of the content we produce, to challenging the incumbent systems and status quo with the aim of making things better for all of us. My focus is on learning how to include and expand the opportunities in emerging territories, particularly on the African continent, combined with exploring the opportunities digital production and distribution provide.”

Sanders said: “Above all, I’m really grateful for this. I’ve been in TV around two-and-a-half years and I see this as a golden ticket to best learn how to craft and develop formats. I got into TV as work experience, bugging Zig Zag until they let me do two weeks on reception. That’s been the most valuable – to start at the very bottom and learn all aspects of the business – and as my boss was mentored by David Lyle himself, we’re all especially delighted that his legacy lives on in this way.”

Cheryl Clarke, president of the David Lyle Foundation, said: “It’s almost trite to say that it was extremely tough to choose the final two, but the judging process proved very clearly there is a huge dollop of passion and compassion in the future talent in our industry.

“Both Chris and Gaby embody the spirit of what we are trying to achieve with this. They both have earned their first place at the TV table by sheer graft, they have great ideas for how to use their privilege for good and they are honest, fresh and approach their opportunities with great humility – I am genuinely delighted for them and really look forward to the year ahead, working to make sure this first year sets the right tone for the legacy worthy of David Lyle’s name.”

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