#GradyGrit: Meet Joybeth Sullivan

#GradyGrit: Meet Joybeth Sullivan

April 08, 2020

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about the beauty of togetherness and vulnerability that comes from pursuing creativity. I am passionate about creative collaboration. I am passionate about the ability we have to bring a story into the life and imagination of cinema, poetry, writing, and the way that brings comfort, newness, and understanding. The world is full of smaller worlds waiting to be shared. I hope that my work will always foster communities and collaboration.

How did you choose your Grady major?

Well, I was touring UGA for maybe the fourth time my senior year of high school. My friend and I were walking around the building when a Grady faculty member noticed us. She invited us to come to her office and explained each major to us. I remember when she explained Entertainment & Media Studies, I was like, “Woah, you can major in that?” From then on, I knew I wanted that to be my major. I found that EMST encapsulated everything I wanted to learn. I eventually changed my English minor to an English major, and I have absolutely loved pursuing both of those majors together.

What are you planning to do after graduating with a Grady degree?

Oh, the dreaded, but exciting question. I applied to a few Summer 2020 video production internships, as well as a music editorial internship that I am waiting to hear back from — but currently, they are delaying acceptances and evaluating if they need to cancel the programs entirely. As a college graduate, there is already a lot of fear and uncertainty surrounding the job search. And now, that fear and uncertainty is even more of a reality. I have applied to numerous jobs, and I am remaining hopeful. Right now, I really am open to moving just about anywhere, but I am specifically interested in LA, New York, or Denver.

What will you miss most about being at Grady every day?

I was in Grady for the last time before Spring Break without even knowing it. Well, without a doubt, the thing I will miss most is the first floor lobby of Grady, or, what we call the basement. The first floor is where I have had the majority of my EMST classes beginning in Spring of 2019. Whenever I walked in, I knew there would be a friend to sit with, laugh with, share a meal with, and, maybe get some work done. I think I will even miss the weird humming that the vending machines made. But mostly, I will miss the wonderful friends I made through being in Grady that I shared that space with.

Sullivan (middle) was director of photography for The Dreams of a Flightless Bird, which won first place in narrative films at the 2020 GCA Student Film Festival. (Photo: submitted)

What is the best or most rewarding part about being a Grady student?

It’s always funny for me to explain the work and projects within Entertainment & Media Studies. I will be going to work on a friend’s project, and my roommates will be like, “What class is this for?” And, I’ll try to explain that maybe it isn’t for any of my classes, but a friend of mine is doing a short film that’s really amazing, so, of course, I want to be a part of it. That is without a doubt my favorite part about Grady.

Within EMST, I have felt supported, challenged, and encouraged through the projects I have gotten to work on and the projects I have seen take place from afar. Specifically, this past semester, I was Director of Photography for the short film, The Dreams of a Flightless BirdMy friends Ben Janes, the Producer, and Eric Najhawan, the Director, were incredible to work with throughout the whole process. Getting to be a part of that story, a story I really believe in, and create the vision from beginning to end through collaboration with a wonderful crew, was without a doubt the most rewarding experience I have had through Grady.

How have you adapted to the online learning environment?

It has definitely been really difficult, I am not going to lie. This whole experience has showed me that community stays when you’re from a place as strong and cultivating as Athens. In terms of Grady, I think the toughest loss is the permanent suspension of my friend in my cohort, Jacob Porter’s independent film project that I was on the crew for – we were going to begin filming right after Spring Break. For now, I am trying to stay very organized, be gentle with myself, and take it day by day.

What has Grady done to make the transition to online learning easier?

The vulnerability from my friends and classmates, to my professors in both Grady and in the English Department, to Dean Davis, has helped me with this transition more than words could even express. I love knowing that I go to a school that really cares about their students individually. This semester, I am in an editing class with Professor Biddle. He has been so understanding and willing to work with students individually to best figure out how to manage a class that requires a lot of technology most of us do not have access to at home. As Dean Davis said in his message to all Grady students, “It’s remarkable how tightly bound this community is, how people’s first instinct is to help others.”

Who is your professional hero?

The first few that come to mind are screenwriter and director, Greta Gerwig, the poet, Mary Oliver, and the writer, Yrsa Daley-Ward. These three women are relentless in their pursuit of telling stories and sharing with the world what they see, and how they see it. I want to make films, and I want to be a poet, and I look to these incredible artists for inspiration and motivation.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I get told that I am a calming presence often, which I am really thankful for. But, I think maybe some people would be surprised to know I really struggle with anxiety. I don’t think it is talked about enough how anxiety can make a creative person feel deeply inadequate and not capable. I feel immensely blessed to have friends and family who are constantly there for me and able to lift me up in times of need.

What is your favorite Athens restaurant?

If I have to narrow it down to two, it would have to be Ahi Hibachi and Poke and Seabear Oyster Bar. Get the tuna poke bowl at Ahi, and get the happy hour oysters, steamed mussels, and scallop fried rice from Seabear… trust me. Honorable mention to the food truck, and soon to be restaurant, Nedza’s, where I work. Their homemade vegan donuts are truly beyond wonderful.

Editor’s Note: Some of the above answers have been edited for length and/or clarity. 

For other installments in the #GradyGrit series, visit the #GradyGrit page.