Meet the Point Foundation’s Class of 2010

The Point Foundation searches for the best and brightest LGBT students.






Rhys Ernst
-from Chapel Hill, N.C.
-pursuing an MFA in film arts and video at the California Institute of the Arts
-HBO Point Scholarship recipient

Growing up in Chapel Hill, N.C., Ernst dropped out of ninth grade due to ostracism and queerphobia, opting instead for a self-directed high school education. During these years, he pursued art and activism, working with North Carolina Lambda Youth Network, Rainbow Youth Coalition, Youth Voice Radio, and Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. He studied photography at the University of North Carolina, jazz at the Berklee College of Music, and art history in Spain, and he received his high school equivalency diploma at 16.

Ernst earned a BA from Hampshire College in 2004. While he was an undergrad, his film The Drive North earned international recognition, screened in over 30 film festivals, and won numerous awards, including the Gold Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival and a Princess Grace Award honorarium.

After graduating, Ernst moved to New York City to begin a career in film and television. He held numerous positions, including producer and editor for MTV Networks, associate producer for Masterclass (HBO), associate producer for Coming Out Stories (Logo), and adjunct professor at Queens College, and he was president of the jury at the Izmir Short Film Festival in Turkey. Later, in Los Angeles, he was secnd unit director for Cheryl Dunye's new feature film, The Owls. For the past two years he has been pursuing an MFA in film and video at the California Institute of the Arts near Los Angeles, where he recently led a campuswide Trans Awareness Week and gender-neutral bathroom campaign. Ernst uses experimental narrative, animation, and video art as strategies to discuss transgender identity, representation, and history. His goal is to bridge his artistic and professional backgrounds in order to bring issues of transgressive representation to as wide an audience as possible.