39th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Topper Carew

Topper Carew

Visiting Researcher/Scholar at the MIT Media Lab

39th Annual MLK Leadership Award

Topper Carew is a Visiting Researcher/Scholar at the MIT Media Lab.

Topper Carew is a Visiting Researcher/Scholar at the MIT Media Lab. He has earned degrees in Architecture and Environmental Design from Yale and has had fully supporting fellowships at MIT (Community Fellow) and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Broadcast Fellow).  The former allowed Carew to complete three films and study at MIT’s then film school.  The latter allowed him to spend time at the BBC/London and at the studios in Hollywood. He also has a Doctorate in Communications from the Union Graduate School/Institute for Policy Studies.

Carew started his film career by making documentaries about the relationship between neighborhood people and architecture, by using it as an empowerment, community organizing and fundraising tool, and by teaching film to inner city kids.  He did all of this at The New Thing Art and Architecture Center, an arts program in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, D.C.  Carew was the New Thing’s founder and director. The fellowship at MIT allowed Carew to make the full transition into film. And to date, Carew has won more than 40 film and television awards, and 8 Gold Medals for graphic design.

After MIT, he spent 4 years at WGBH (Boston) where he produced Say Brother and several national series for PBS (Say Brother National Edition, Rebop I & II, and Tonight From Harvard Square).  While there, Carew rose to the rank of Program Manager and subsequently shared responsibility for all of WGBH’s program development and production.

After WGBH, Carew founded an independent production company, Rainbow Television Workshop. It produced series and movies for PBS, HBO, Showtime, Nick and The Disney Channel.  Other projects have aired in prime time on ABC, NBC, and FOX.  His theatrically released films include DC Cab (Universal Pictures) and Breakin‘ and Enterin’ (Shapiro/Glickenhaus). One of his prime time television series, Martin (FOX), enjoys the rarified distinction of having attained off network syndication (TNT,TV One, and MTV)

Carew has served on a number of boards. They include the National Urban Coalition, the DC Arts Commission, The Children’s Foundation, The Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), The Negro Scholarship Fund, the Social Venture Network, the LA Children’s Museum, and the First African Meeting House.  He was also appointed to a Presidential Commission on African American History and Culture.

His awards include 3 Action for Children’s Television Awards, 4 NAACP Image Awards, a People’s Choice Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.

In all, Carew has produced (8) national television series, (15) documentaries, 4 theatrically released films, 15 movies for television and 300 live concerts.

Three recent honors include the Boston Neighborhood Network’s “ National Media Hero Award”, the “Hometown Video Award” for the best Public Access On Air television promotional campaign in the nation, and an appointment as “Artist in Residence” at the historic Trinity Church in Boston.