The new Dean of the LMU School of Film & Television, Peggy Rajski, is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker, the founder of the groundbreaking nonprofit The Trevor Project, and has spent the last eight years leading the Graduate Producing Program at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. This uncommon combination of filmmaking acumen, advocacy, and academic rigor make her uniquely prepared to lead SFTV into its next era of growth.
Rajski won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short with her directorial debut, the short film TREVOR, a poignant comedy about a young teen whose world is turned upside down when word spreads at school that he might be gay. In 1998, the film secured a special presentation on HBO hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, the same year she publicly announced she was gay. Rajski recognized that the program's timing created an exceptional opportunity to address one of the greatest mental health crises in the country—the high rate of suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. As a result, she created the The Trevor Project, America's first and only 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention service dedicated to LGBTQ+ young people. Two decades later, Rajski continues her service as founder and member of the organization's Board of Directors.
Rajski's work on TREVOR led the Academy's Short Film and Animation Branch to recognize her as a Live Action Icon in 2014. The film was recently added to MoMA's permanent collection and is currently being adapted as a stage musical.
Rajski began producing films during the emergence of the Independent Film movement in the 1980s. Her many credits include three of writer/director John Sayles' early films: THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, MATEWAN, and EIGHT MEN OUT, as well as Stephen Frears' film noir classic THE GRIFTERS, which she co-produced with Martin Scorsese. The film received four Academy Award nominations and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature. After meeting Jodie Foster while serving on the Sundance Film Festival jury together, Rajski produced her directorial debut LITTLE MAN TATE as well as her second film, HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
Rajski is a longstanding member of the Directors Guild of America, Film Independent, and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). She has served on multiple committees for the Academy, including Institutional Grants, the Student Academy Awards, and has been a judge for the Academy's Nicholls Fellowship for Screenwriters for more than a decade.
In recognition for her work, Rajski was awarded a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Wisconsin, New York Women in Film and Television's Muse Award for outstanding vision and achievement in the entertainment industry, and is featured in photographer John Russo's book "100 Making a Difference" alongside fellow humanitarians Malala Yousafzai, Sir Elton John, and Serena Williams.