Former Black Entertainment Television VP Andre' Barnwell is Faculty Advisor for FIDM's Black Student Union
Author, fragrance designer, and Howard University graduate, Andre' Barnwell is a FIDM Instructor and the Faculty Advisor for the Black Student Union (BSU). Beginning his second term on the Executive Faculty Council, Andre' chairs the Admissions and Marketing Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. We caught up with the former Black Entertainment Television VP to learn more.
Andre', tell us about your professional background and what you teach at FIDM: My professional background has two main areas. On my design side, I started as a tie designer then became a fragrance designer with my own fragrance company and was able to get my fragrance line RAKS into Nordstrom. On my media side, I also worked at Black Entertainment Television (BET) as a Vice President of Comedy/Development and Executive Producer where I was able to create and direct my own sketch comedy show, The Way We Do It, with comedian Rickey Smiley. At FIDM, I currently teach marketing and branding classes.
Tell us about the Black Student Union (BSU) and how it came to be and how it's going? I am the Faculty Advisor for FIDM's Black Student Union (BSU). It was created as a response to the George Floyd murder and all of our students requested to FIDM about having a place for their Black classmates to have a recognized safe space. FIDM sponsored a symposium, We See You, which I was able to co-host and out of those discussions with students, faculty, and the administration, the BSU was formed. We are going into our second year and it's exciting to see our Black students dedication to building a club that will be at FIDM long after they graduate to pursue their professional careers. They are working so hard and I'm so proud of them!
Last year, you suggested a collaboration with a college and fashion company in Africa. Can you tell us about that and how it went? I was looking at FIDM information on study abroad and I noticed we didn’t have a relationship with any schools on the continent of Africa. I emailed Barbara Bundy and Sarah Repetto about the possibility of pursuing this. Barbara and Sarah without hesitation were totally supportive of me investigating this further. I had been to Africa before, specifically to South Africa visiting the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town on business for my fragrance line. I contacted several top design schools and I thought the prominent fashion school FEDISA was the perfect fit. I felt that if FIDM was a school in South Africa it would be FEDISA. Barbara, Sarah and I met with their top people and the two schools agreed to a collaboration. FIDM students and FEDISA students have already participated in a design project for a kids line in South Africa called KEEDO. Hopefully in the near future when we will be able to travel safely again how cool would it be to see FEDISA students visiting Los Angeles and FIDM students visiting Johannesburg!