Actress Jada Pinkett Smith gives $1 million to arts school

Society Materials 13 December 2006 12:56 (UTC +04:00)
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith  gives $1 million to arts school

news.yahoo.com Jada Pinkett Smith donated $1 million to the high school from which she graduated and asked that a theater there be dedicated to one of her classmates, Tupac Shakur.

The Baltimore School for the Arts announced the donation for a renovation and expansion on Monday, and said it will name its new theater for her.

The donation comes from the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, which is based in Baltimore. They had previously given $112,500 to the school.

When a $30 million expansion program is finished in the fall of 2007, the school will increase its enrollment from 316 to 375 students.

"It means a lot when you're a teacher and your most famous alumnus comes back to give a donation," said Donald Hicken, head of the school's theater department since its founding in 1980 and Pinkett Smith's former theater teacher. "It really says a lot to the community that the school matters in people's lives."

Karen Banfield Evans, executive director of the Smith Family Foundation, and Pinkett Smith's aunt, said the actress was moved by the school's advances since she graduated in 1989.

Pinkett Smith wanted the theater named for Shakur because of the friendship they developed at the school. Shakur died in 1996 after a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

Pinkett Smith has appeared in such movies as "Ali," "Collateral" and the Matrix series. Most recently, she was the voice of the hippo Gloria in the animated film "Madagascar."