City Life

Funds from the Family Guy

Naomi Bradford, the first recipient of RISD’s Seth MacFarlane Scholarship, talks about exploration and art


Love him or leave him, Seth MacFarlane’s influence on popular culture is undeniable, from a lemon-headed baby with a British accent to the “giggity” heard round the world. The Emmy-winning multi-hyphenate (including producer, writer, animator and voice actor) refined his artistic chops at RISD as a Film/Animation/Video (FAV) major. This year he gave $1.25 million to the school to establish the Seth MacFarlane Endowed Scholarship Fund, which awards full tuition to a student in financial need.

The first recipient of the fund is RISD junior Naomi Bradford, also a FAV major who chose that course of study “to continue that spirit of exploration” that characterized her first year at the school. “I love movies and animation,” she says. “It’s such an accessible platform for sharing information and experiences.”

Currently, she says, “I’m learning a lot of technical skills, like how to use the Adobe suite of programs, how to articulate my ideas with a camera, and how to nurture a concept fully until it’s actually ready to be animated or filmed.” Her subject matter involves “hardships I don’t see often and some I do, like romantic and familial love, self-discovery and poverty.” And she’s cautious but optimistic about her artistic ventures post-RISD: “I’ve decided not to try to pigeonhole myself [into] any one thing, and just focus on making things that I love,” she says.

Of the alum who funded her scholarship, Naomi says, “It’s amazing to see a RISD graduate doing so well, following his passion with such success. I appreciate that Seth recognizes the struggle of affording a private university for some, and wants to make it possible for students to get this amazing education without being concerned about loans after graduation.”

Receiving the scholarship, she says, was “a huge honor”; “I cried when I read the email,” she says. “It means that the RISD faculty see my potential and want me to be here. Also, it means that I don’t have to work as many side jobs during the school year, so I can really focus my energy on honing my skills, making work that I love and that others will connect to.”