Carnegie Mellon University
August 03, 2020

CMU Alumnus Tommy Oliver Works for Change

By Pam Wigley

Tommy Oliver's personal and professional life are hitting high notes right now, but he is not one to stand on the sidelines and rest on past accomplishments. And he would be the first to tell you he wouldn't have it any other way.

Oliver is a 2006 graduate of Carnegie Mellon's economics program, a joint offering of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Tepper School of Business. He is a Los Angeles-based producer, director, and writer best known for Kinyarwanda (2011), The Perfect Guy (2015), Black Love (2017) and 1982 (2013). Earlier this month, he was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences along with more than 800 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures.

"The Academy is delighted to welcome these distinguished fellow travelers in the motion picture arts and sciences. We have always embraced extraordinary talent that reflects the rich variety of our global film community, and never more so than now," said Academy President David Rubin.

Tommy Oliver receives a 2018 Alumni Achievement Award.

Oliver's accomplishments were certainly evident as the Academy invited him into the producers branch. He founded his own production company, Confluential Films, in 2012. He is one of the youngest people to ever produce a feature film at Sony Studios — 2015's "The Perfect Guy," which made $26 million its opening weekend. His directorial debut, the semi-autobiographical "1982," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to critical acclaim in 2013. He also produced 2011's "Kinyarwanda," a Sundance Award winner and sixth on Roger Ebert's Top 10 list of films of that year.

Although Oliver is best known as a filmmaker, he recently made headlines as a photographer. During the recent protests following the death of George Floyd Jr. in Minneapolis, Oliver did not stand on the sidelines but, rather, chose to get involved by documenting the protests. He attended a rally on Hollywood Boulevard where upwards of 50,000 people gathered and said he found the experience deeply affecting. 

"I filmed the power of the protests," he said, and saw that "when we work together, there's no stopping us."

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