Ellen Burstyn (Image credit: Marco Grub, courtesy of Philanthropy Women).

October 5, 2023

A Horror Sequel Spawns a Philanthropic Legacy

When Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Burstyn was offered the chance to reprise her role in a sequel to the 1973 horror classic, “The Exorcist,” she thought, “The devil is asking my price!”

Ultimately, Ms. Burstyn agreed to appear in “The Exorcist: Believer,” set to open this weekend, so she could fund her philanthropic legacy, via an account at FJC. 

Ms. Burstyn recounted her story for Philanthropy Women, an online home for women donors and their allies to read about, understand, and amplify feminist philanthropy.

Below is an excerpt from Ellen Burstyn’s Lasting Legacy as a Philanthropist for the Art of Acting.

At 90 years old, Ellen is still incredibly active and currently serves as the co-president of the Actors Studio in New York City, which has launched the careers of people like Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. It’s a labor of love for Ellen, and she recently reprised her role in the Exorcist franchise to fund a $1 million scholarship fund for the studio’s MFA. Burstyn wanted the fund to be specifically geared towards assisting BIPOC artists. She chose an independent partner in FJC – A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds, with a history of creating custom philanthropic programs like this one.

As Ellen herself tells the story:

“I became a philanthropist last year, and I owe my newfound role as a grantmaker to my decision to appear in the Exorcist sequel. Since I appeared in the original “The Exorcist” film in 1973, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve been offered roles in sequels. This time, I was offered it again—for a lot of money—and I said no. They came back and doubled the offer. But something told me, “Don’t say no too fast.” I closed my eyes, and the next thought that came to my mind was, “The devil is asking my price.” And my price is a scholarship program for the Masters in Fine Arts program of The Actors Studio, currently at Pace University.”

Read the rest of the story here.