By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Millington Central High School at the Memphis leg of the NAACP ACT-SO competition has become a tradition over the past 10 years.
When broadcast instructor Marshonn Calvin arrived on campus 11 years ago, he made it his mission to established a program that would product quality filmmakers and broadcasters with the potential to go beyond college. Part of Calvin’s vision would be validated through competing in competitions like ACT-SO.
From first place winners like Jordan Brooks and Randall Davis to other ACT-SO medalist like Edward Jones, Rubin Seymore and Quametra Wilborn, Trojan Broadcast has made an impact on the competition.
The latest to continue the tradition are junior Emmanuel Jones and sophomore Jherika Brown by competing in the 2014 Visual Filmmaking/Video category. The duo traveled to the First Baptist Church Broad in Memphis last Thursday to compete with students from Whitehave and Overton high schools. With only the first-place winner earning a spot in the national competition in Las Vegas, the students were anticipating the announcement during the award ceremony that evening.
The pair of Trojans won’t be heading to Nevada, but Brown took home the second-place medal and Jones the third-place medal.
“They did a great job for their first time out,” Calvin said. “They got a chance to see their work on a big platform and learn what they need to do. They’re raw right now and they have natural talent. Jherika has it. And Emmanuel, once he gets the technical phases down will reach that level of some of our past students.”
The winner Ronald Levy III of Whitehaven has enjoyed a successful past at the ACT-SO Awards. In 2012 as a sophomore Levy won first prize for filmmaking. This year Levy didn’t even use a camera to create his video.
Using stop-motion photography and his I-phone, Levy pieced together more than 800 photos taken by an Olympus camera given to him by his father to display the day in the life of a teacher driving from Arkansas to teach class in Memphis.
Brown worked on her piece for weeks focusing on school bullying. Using statistics and different images of bullying, Brown placed the spotlight on a problem she sees across MCHS daily.
“I felt like although its been talked about, there was nothing being done about it in our school,” she said. “I see it everyday. So I wanted to focus on that. I had to tell all my friends, ‘Say something because it’s wrong.’”
Jones’ film was a piece focusing on a hidden issue for teenagers, abuse in relationships. Using dark lighting and painful images, Jones’ video illustrated a girl trying to find a way out of an abusive relationship.
“My friend said she went through domestic violence with her boyfriend,” Jones said. “She wanted me to get her message out to help people who go through it to seek out help.”
The judges noted realism of the MCHS enteries. And they also recognized that the program’s growth is evident over the years.
Jones said it was an honor to carry on the tradition and be the next in line.
“It feels great to be here,” he said. “It was a great opportunity for me to test my skills and be able to do things. We got to talk to and get the experience of professionals.”
As a sophomore, Brown said she knows there is room for improvement and she plans on doing that to take first prize one day.
“I was very surprised and overwhelmed to make it here,” she said. “It’s basically showing me the things I can do in the future. I know I can get better and better. I can’t believe I’m here and it’s been a big opporunity. I took a lot from it.”