Wharton Leadership Lectures Present: M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN (WRITER/ DIRECTOR/ PRODUCER/ACTOR & FOUNDER, M. NIGHT.SHYAMALAN FOUNDATION)
Screenwriter, director and producer M. Night Shyamalan has captured the attention of audiences around the world for almost two decades and is regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of our time.
Shyamalan became interested in making films at a young age and completed several short films before he finished high school. During his final year in college at NYU, Shyamalan wrote, directed, produced, and starred in “Praying with Anger,” a semiautobiographical screenplay about a student from the U.S. who goes to India and finds himself a stranger in his homeland. This film later screened at the Toronto International film Festival.
In the years that followed, Shyamalan wrote “Stuart Little” for Columbia Pictures and completed his first main stream film, “Wide Awake.” In 1999, “The Sixth Sense” catapulted Shyamalan into stardom and he became one of the most sought after young filmmakers in Hollywood. One of the highest grossing films of all time, “The Sixth Sense” received a total of six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Shyamalan has released a number of widely successful box office hits such as “Unbreakable,” “Signs,” “The Village,” “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening.” His most recent film “The Last Airbender,” was an adaptation of the Nickelodeon series and Shyamalan’s first foray into family entertainment and met with huge success worldwide.
In 2009, Shyamalan struck a deal with Media Rights Capital to produce a series of supernatural thrillers under the banner “The Night Chronicles.” The series began with the film “Devil” that opened in September 2010 and will continue with the thriller “Reincarnate.” He is also beginning production on a new film at Columbia Pictures that finds him collaborating with Will and Jaden Smith and Overbrook Entertainment. Shyamalan’s production company, Blinding Edge Pictures, is located near Philadelphia where the majority of his films take place. His success in the world of film is unprecedented and yet his passion for people, and esteem for human potential, eventually led him to begin an equally successful career in the world of Philanthropy.
In 2001, he and his wife, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, co-founded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to helping empower individuals around the world to live a life of dignity. Shyamalan envisions a world where every human being has an ability to thrive and is given the opportunity to reach their potential. He has personally funded over $1.7 million in grants to help provide life’s basic amenities such as food, water, education, livelihood, and shelter to those without access. Recently, concerned with the state of public education in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, Shyamalan has begun to focus the efforts and resources of his foundation on educational reform in Philadelphia.
By partnering with Givology, Shyamalan believes he can help reintroduce the concept of “giving” to our culture in a way that does not emphasize money, but promotes the habit of giving. “We all can contribute to the success of others. Whether it is money or time or a particular set of skills, giving is healthy for everyone. Through Givology, giving can literally change the life trajectory of a child overseas.” Through this new and exciting collaboration, Shyamalan hopes to spur a movement of giving and remind us all that we are connected through a global community.
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