Wylie Aitken is known across Orange County for his many professional accomplishments and community leadership roles.

In the legal community, he is an esteemed trial attorney, who regularly tops the Best Lawyers in America lists. Most recently he represented and won a settlement for businesses impacted by the  2021 oil spill in Huntington Beach.

If you are a patron of the Arts, you know that Aitken and his wife, Bette, support many local arts organizations including the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory, Chance Theatre. Wylie is also a previous chair of the  California Arts Council.

Here at Voice of OC, we know Aitken as a supporter of nonprofit news in Orange County. Aitken was one of Voice of OC’s earliest supporters and he is our current Chairman of the Voice of OC Board of Directors.

Aitken was just recognized nationally for another one of his passions as a patron and advocate:

American film.

This month, Aitken was selected to the AFI Board of Trustees, a longtime and esteemed nonprofit that promotes the film industry.

Growing up as a self-described “Film Rat” going to the movies was a big part of Aitken’s youth. As a high school student in Garden Grove he took stage production and dreamed of becoming an actor himself.

As a college student a fascination with the law took Aitken down a different path.

After studying at Santa Ana College, Cal State Fullerton and getting his law degree from Marquette University he started his career as a trial attorney. Quickly becoming the youngest President in the history of the State Trial Bar at age 35.

“Being a trial attorney is similar to acting. However, your audience is 12 people. You play smaller houses,” says Aitken with a smile. “In film it’s important to communicate authentically. And authenticity and sincerity is important in the courtroom. Every case I’ve tried involves a story – told throughout the Trial and in the Final Argument. You need to tell that story so members of the jury can relate to others’ lives.”

“I’m honored to be on the Board of Trustees at a time where we are dealing with serious issues, like streaming, A I and multiple other issues, we are at a unique and pivotal time for the industry,” says Aitken. 

The addition of Pam, Wylie and Ari to the board will further propel our national mandate to inspire, to educate and, ultimately, to drive culture forward.” said Kathleen Kennedy, Chair of AFI Board of Trustees.

The American Film Institute, best known for film conservation and its 100 YEARS…100 MOVIES lists, is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion film as an art form.

Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States.

In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. The Conservatory, which counts Deniese Davis, Affonso Gonçalves, Susannah Grant, Matthew Libatique, David Lynch, Melina Matsoukas and Rachel Morrison, the Duffer brothers, and Justin Simien from Chapman University Film School (which Aitken also champions and is ranked #4 nationally) as Alumni, is ranked the #1 film school in America.

For more information about AFI and their programs click here.

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