Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication will honor Oscar- and Grammy-winning musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson with its 2022 Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Award.
Each year, Klein College honors one luminary from the media world whose work and career serve as inspiration to its students. Previous winners have included comedian Tina Fey, sports icon Charles Barkley, CNN anchor Jake Tapper and New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet.
Questlove, a Philadelphia native, will receive the honor on Sunday, October 23, 2022, during the college’s Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Awards banquet. At that event, six prominent Klein College alumni will be inducted into the school’s Alumni Hall of Fame, and one younger alumnus will be honored as a “Rising Star.”
Questlove is renowned for excellence in many forms of media and entertainment. He is best known as the co-founder of Philadelphia’s most influential hip-hop group, The Roots, which is the house band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Questlove is the musical director for the show. He has won six Grammy Awards, and has directed a variety of musicians, including D’Angelo and Jay-Z.
In 2021, Questlove made his directorial debut with the Academy Award–winning feature documentary Summer of Soul, which explores the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. The film premiered on the opening night of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best U.S. Documentary. The movie broke the record for the highest-selling documentary to come out of Sundance when it was acquired by Searchlight/Hulu, and it has since gone on to win Best Feature Documentary at the 2022 Academy Awards, Best Documentary at the 2022 British Academy Film Awards and Best Music Film at the 2022 Grammy Awards. In addition, former President Barack Obama named Summer of Soul one of his favorite movies of the year.
Questlove has written multiple books, including the New York Times bestsellers Mo’ Meta Blues and Creative Quest, the James Beard Award-nominated somethingtofoodabout, and the newly released Music is History.
Additionally, he served as executive music producer and composer on the A&E miniseries, Roots, and co-produced the Grammy Award-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of Hamilton. He even co-starred in a voiceover role in Disney Pixar’s Oscar-winning animated feature film, Soul.
“Questlove’s accomplishments across forms of media – from music to books to film – are remarkable, and Summer of Soul is an essential piece of cultural history,” said Klein College Dean David Boardman. “As Philadelphia’s public university, we are thrilled to honor Questlove in his hometown, and he honors us by coming to meet with our students and Klein College community.”
Questlove will receive the honor in Mitten Hall’s Great Court, following a panel discussion and conversation with students in the Temple Performing Arts Center.
The Lew Klein Alumni in the Media Awards ceremony will also honor the professional achievements of seven prominent alumni from the media and communication industries. This year's Alumni in the Media honorees are:
- Howard Bryant, KLN ‘91, author, sportswriter and commentator, Meadowlark Media and ESPN.com
- Chris Carl, KLN ‘92, director of news and programming, WDEL Radio in Wilmington
- Danielle Cohn, KLN ‘95, vice president of startup engagement, head of LIFT Labs, Comcast NBCUniversal
- Nora Gerard, KLN ‘74, director, CBS “Sunday Morning”
- Pete Jones, KLN ‘92, executive creative Director, Havas New York, a unit of Vivendi, the French mass media holding company
- Eugene Kane, KLN ’81, columnist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (posthumous)
This year’s Rising Star award will be presented to Ray Boyd, KLN ‘13, who is the director of syndication and social media at The Philadelphia Inquirer.