Oakland – The annual celebration for excellence in television entertainment, the 72nd Emmy Awards show on ABC on Sunday night, September 20, was a huge night for Oakland Unified School District, and people with roots here. The District can add three Emmys to the collection of awards amassed throughout the years by alumni, staff, former students, and other connected artists.
First off, Zendaya, who is from Oakland and whose mother taught at Fruitvale Elementary, won for Lead Actress in a Drama for her work in HBO’s Euphoria. Another winner was 2004 McClymonds High School graduate, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who took the Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his work in Watchmen on HBO. And lastly, current students from across the District can celebrate the win by We Are The Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, an HBO documentary, which took home the Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program.
Zendaya’s mother, Claire Stoermer, taught at Fruitvale for 20 years, and Zendaya used to visit the school and even helped tutor the students. In more recent years, she has visited Fruitvale and other schools to support today’s students. In winning the Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama, she beat out industry heavyweights including Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Oh, and Laura Linney. She also became the youngest woman to win the category at just 24 years old. Her acceptance speech brought tears to the eyes of many who watched it.
Supporting Actor winner, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, grew up in West Oakland, and attended school in Emeryville before going to McClymonds for his high school career. For years, he has remained close with McClymonds social worker, Relonda McGhee. “Yahya was destined for greatness, so it is awesome that he has won his first Emmy Award,” she said. “Yahya surprised me with a visit at school in February, 2018. As I do all Mack Family when they come see me, I had him speak to my class. He did so and sponsored a young lady for her Prom. He asked who had the highest GPA and the lowest. This student was bold enough to admit her grades had dropped, and he promised to pay for her Prom if she worked hard to bring her grades back up. She did and he sent me the money for her. That’s just him. I couldn’t be more excited that Yahya is now receiving this recognition. He’s a great actor, and an even better person.”
Lastly, the win by the documentary, We Are The Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, is a win for all Oakland students who have and will take part in the District’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Fest. And in particular, it’s a win for Executive Producer, Mahershala Ali, who was born in Oakland, and for Skyline High School Drama Teacher, Awele Makeba (right), the producer of the Oratorical Fest. “HBO’s documentary was a precious gift to OUSD, the City of Oakland, and especially our children and families,” she said. “It’s definitely a community affair. The Emmy elevates the documentary to a whole other level, not only lifting up our talented youth, amplifying their potent voices nationally, but centering 4-11 year olds, predominantly children of color, in a proud legacy of being on the right side of racial and social justice, honoring the life and dream of Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
You can learn more about the documentary and watch it for free here:
“Nothing about these Emmy wins comes as a surprise to me,” said Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell. “I have helped judge the MLK Oratorical Fest, and see regularly how amazing the students are, and how remarkable the event is for them. The documentary did a beautiful job of sharing all that goes into the speeches, and what taking part means for our young people. As for Zendaya and Yahya, knowing their roots are here in Oakland, I have followed their careers, and see, like everyone else, their extraordinary talents. Their Emmy wins just confirm what we already knew. I want to personally congratulate Zendaya, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Mahershala Ali, Ms. Awele at Skyline, and all the students, staff and families who make the MLK Oratorical Fest the amazing event that it is. All of you do a wonderful job of showing the heart and brilliance of Oakland.”
About the Oakland Unified School District
In California’s most diverse city, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to creating a learning environment where “Every Student Thrives!” More than half of our students speak a non-English language at home. And each of our 81 schools is staffed with talented individuals uniting around a common set of values: Students First, Equity, Excellence, Integrity, Cultural Responsiveness and Joy. We are committed to preparing all students for college, career and community success.
To learn more about OUSD’s Full Service Community District focused on academic achievement while serving the whole child in safe schools, please visit OUSD.org and follow us @OUSDnews.
This post based on a press release from OUSD to Zennie62Media.
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