2 of Lauren Musgrove’s projects screen at Sidewalk Film Festival

For the eighth year in a row, filmmaker and new Grady College faculty member Lauren Musgrove had projects shown at Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Musgrove, an assistant professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies, had two projects with her company, Purple Magnet Productions, screen at Sidewalk: a music video for the song “Hold on Savannah” by Nashville artist Charlie Argo, directed and co-produced by Maggie Brown, and a short film “Yellow Wallpaper,” a Planet Froth film directed by Ricky Rhodes, based off the short story with the same name by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. 

Lauren Musgrove (right) poses for a photo in front of a Sidewalk Film Festival sign with her business partner Maggie Brown and director of Yellow Wallpaper, Ricky Rhodes.
Musgrove (right) with her business partner Maggie Brown (left) and director of Yellow Wallpaper, Ricky Rhodes. (Photo: Jaysen Michael)

The “Hold on Savannah” music video was co-produced and edited by Musgrove. Purple Magnet was in association with the production of “Yellow Wallpaper,” and Musgrove was an editor of the film. The film premiered at the Oscar and Bafta qualifying Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival on July 24, 2023.

Both projects were shot in Alabama, but her production company, Purple Magnet, is now based in Georgia. She founded the company in 2020 with Brown, who was formerly Musgrove’s undergraduate classmate at the University of Alabama. 

“I tell all of my students here that story now,” said Musgrove. “‘Look around you, these people could be your forever collaborators!’” 

Over the past three years, Musgrove and Brown have produced eight music videos, numerous short films and three features. They’re currently in pre-production on a documentary feature. 

“We founded the company because we had a slate of music videos that we were doing,” Musgrove explained. “With music videos, it’s always really fun to collaborate with musicians and come up with a vision together. You can be more experimental. I really like that about them, that you can be more fluid with the storytelling and not be so plot-driven.” 

Musgrove is an eight-time Southeast Emmy-winning filmmaker with an MFA in Film and Media Art from Emerson College in Boston. She has a number of productions to her credit including serving as co-producer and director of “People of Alabama” documentary video series which received an INMA Global Media Award, and “A Day in the Life of America,” which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and is available on PBS. 

But, as a native Southerner, the Sidewalk Film Festival holds a special place in her heart. 

“Sidewalk was the first festival that I was ever a filmmaker at,” said Musgrove. “I think I just fell in love with it. Sidewalk does such a good job making filmmakers feel welcomed, appreciated and valued. I always want to go. Sidewalk has now grown beyond just the festival. It has become a cultural staple for Alabama and the South as a whole.”

Neither “Hold on Savannah,” nor “Yellow Wallpaper” are currently publicly available, although a trailer for “Yellow Wallpaper” is available on Planet Froth’s website. “Hold on Savannah” will be released on YouTube in October of this year.

Profiles of Tenacity: Kelly Gago

Fourth-year Entertainment and Media Studies student Kelly Gago uses the skills she learned in her classes to create short films and prepare herself for life post-graduation. She encourages students to take all opportunities given to them, and make the most out of their college experience.

Why did you choose your major?

Right before the COVID-19 lockdown, I went on a trip to Disney World with my parents. I remember sitting in Hollywood Studios with my dad telling him how I had no idea what I wanted to major in. Then he was like, isn’t this your favorite Disney park? You love movies, you can major in that. And Voila a month later I got into UGA and immediately changed my major from Business Management to Entertainment and Media Studies.

What does tenacity mean to you?

To me tenacity means perseverance. It means that even when things get hard you will continue to follow your goals.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other Grady students

Okay hear me out but YOLO. (I promise I did not just time travel from 2012.) Scared to apply for your dream internship? YOLO. Nervous about applying to a study abroad program? YOLO. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there or follow your dreams! You’ll only be an undergrad at Grady once so you might as well live this opportunity to its fullest.

What is your most memorable Grady experience?
Gago (left) working behind the scenes on her short film “Cafecito.”

There are so many but I think one of my most memorable would be writing an entire TV show with my friends in my Writing for Entertainment Media class. Also in May 2022, I was able to attend the Cannes Film Festival which was an amazing opportunity. Not only was it the ultimate test of stepping out of my comfort zone ( I had never left the country and I did not know a single word of French) but being in an environment where everyone was so passionate about film really solidified that this is the path for me.

What are you passionate about?

As the daughter of Cuban parents and a proud Cuban American, I am super passionate about telling Latinx stories. I’m also passionate about whatever my current hyper-fixation is. (This week it’s Letterboxd, my Kindle and Maluma’s new album).

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the past year?

This past year I wrote (and directed) my first ever short film, Cafecito, for my Directing for the Screen class. Honestly, I never considered myself a writer so writing a screenplay was something I never thought I would do but I had an idea and I knew I had to be the one to write it. I ended up submitting my film to the Elevate Film Festival and got nominated for best screenplay. It was such a full circle moment for me.

Who is your favorite Grady professor and why?
Group photo at Cannes Film Festival
Gago (back left) attended the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.

I loved all my professors at Grady but if I have to narrow it down it would be Professor Sridhar and Professor Biddle. For Sridhar’s class, we were divided into groups and had the goal to write an entire episode for a TV show that we created. The task was daunting at first but Sridhar would always make us laugh and encourage us to do our best! I had Professor Biddle for Production Basics and he truly helped me gain confidence as a filmmaker.

Where’s your favorite place on campus and why?

I am a simple woman. I love anywhere with a charger nearby and a comfy chair. My favorite places to locate these must-have essentials would be the 5th floor of Tate, the reading room in the Main Library, or the Homecoming office in the ELS.

Who is your professional hero?

My professional hero is definitely Greta Gerwig. As cheesy as it sounds she really is Director Barbie; Many of her works, both as a writer and director, focus on the experiences of complex, independent, and authentic female characters and they have been crazy successful as well. Whenever I wonder if becoming a director is just a pipe dream I think of Greta.

Booker T. Mattison writes and directs “Twisted Marriage Therapist”

“It is a psychological thriller, and it is indeed shocking,” Booker T. Mattison, an associate professor in the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies at Grady College, said about his newest film, “Twisted Marriage Therapist.” 

A photo of Marija Abney as Dr. Yo. that reads "Nurturing Relationships for Lasting Connection. Grow with Dr. Yo."
In “Twisted Marriage Therapist,” Dr. Yo is played by Marija Abney.

Set to premiere on the free streaming service Tubi on Sept. 7, “Twisted Marriage Therapist” tells the story of a celebrity marriage counselor who gets the husband of a couple she’s counseling committed so she can steal his wife.

“I like thrillers, but the psychological thriller I particularly like because it allows the protagonist to manipulate and to use her mind to impact the minds of other characters in the film,” said Mattison. “And if you control someone’s mind, ultimately you can control their body. So it was a lot of fun both writing the film and directing it.”

Shot in late spring of 2023, from May 14 through June 2, and starring Marija Abney as Dr. Yo, Pha’rez Lass as the husband and Jennifer Sears as the wife, “Twisted Marriage Therapist” is markedly different compared to previous films Mattison has made. 

Mattison has a background in dramas. Last year, he stepped slightly outside of his comfort zone while writing and directing “The Sound of Christmas,” a holiday movie about a widower who falls in love with a music teacher who brings love and music back to the family during the holidays. It debuted on BET+ Thanksgiving of 2022. 

Notably, “Twisted Marriage Therapist” is a sharp turn from a family holiday movie. But Mattison always welcomes a challenge. 

“I was hired to do a psychological thriller, and I did it,” said Mattison. “It allows me to showcase my diversity as a storyteller, as both a writer and a director.” 

“People often ask me, ‘What type of films do you like?’ or ‘What type of stories do you tell?’ My answer is always ‘good ones,’ Mattison added. “I’m not a person who favors one particular genre.”

This approach, of being a diverse storyteller, also influences how Mattison teaches his students at Grady College.  

“My initial objective is to create an environment where students can discover their voice,” said Mattison. “My second objective is to train students to refine that voice and then use it to tell stories that matter to them, independent of genre or subject matter.”

Those interested in taking a look behind the scenes of the production of “Twisted Marriage Therapist” can visit Mattison’s Instagram page.

Students serve as production assistants on World War II documentary

For fourth-year student Xander Chiaramonte, the opportunity to help film interviews with World War II historians on location in France created some incredible summer memories.

“I think the benefit of seeing other areas of the world is something that you just can’t even put into any metric…it’s just the most important thing for perspective,” Chiaramonte said. “And, to be able to do that and learn about what I already love doing was the ultimate package deal for me.”

Chiaramonte was one of five UGA students who spent ten days in France and Switzerland working on a documentary based on the book, “Scholars of Mayhem,” by Daniel Guiet and Timothy Smith. The book is a true story about Guiet’s father who was recruited by one of the Allies’ top spy and Resistance units. The crew was scheduled to interview Guiet for the documentary, but he died shortly before filming began.

Sophie Ralph frames a shot. (Photo: Elizabeth Wampler)

“That’s one of the World War II Foundation’s main goals is to make sure they retain stories before people pass away and stories get lost,” Chiaramonte said of the documentary, which is expected to air on PBS next spring.

The trip is part of the International College Documentary Film Program sponsored by the World War II Foundation, and this is the first year that Grady College students participated.  The experience was thanks in part to a donation from Glen and Clay Jackson, whose father, Edward Jackson (ABJ ’47), was Grady graduate and a World War II veteran.

Paris; Limoges, France; and Geneva, Switzerland, served as home base stops for the crews which traveled by bus from each of the city hubs. Each morning, the bus took students and the production crew to film significant historical locations and interviews with WWII  historians.  Between stops, the director and camera operator briefed students about the history of the location they were traveling, discussing how they made filming decisions and what could be learned from the shoot. Once there, the students would assist the crew in setting up cameras, preparing those to be interviewed and helping with lighting, among other tasks.

“I was excited that the trip was more hands-on than I expected,” said fourth-year student Sophie Ralph. “Getting a chance to do it yourself is so valuable in learning skills.”

Jay Hamilton, head of the Department of Entertainment and Media studies and the faculty representative on the trip, said the lessons on the trip were invaluable.

“One of the biggest lessons learned is that despite all of the planning ahead of time, constant adjustments were needed,” Hamilton said. “It’s a stressful schedule…you’re awake and up early, you’re traveling, you’re on a bus, you’re figuring stuff out, you’re trying to get things done, you’re working with other people, the sun’s going down…but you’ve got to be 100% professional. The adjustments that need to be made, and how professionals still make it happen, is an important lesson.”

In addition to juggling a demanding schedule, there were a lot of personal growth lessons, too.

Xander Chiaramonte listens as a tour guide at the La Roche Guyon Castle outside of Paris talks about the Nazi occupation of the area. (Photo: Jay Hamilton)

This trip appealed to a variety of interests for Ralph, who aspires to work in documentary production following graduation. Ralph is a journalism major with minors in film studies and European studies and she not only loved the interviews and rich history of the area, but she also appreciated applying production skills she has learned in class.

“I learned that anything is possible,” Ralph said. “I would never have imagined that I would be able to work on an international documentary in France. It was a really valuable experience.”

The impact of touring different sites from an international perspective was key, as well. Hamilton noted that the cemeteries and museums like the Suresnes American Cemetery and the French Resistance Museum were especially meaningful.

“What they suggested about the sacrifice that the French government and nation made and the recognition and appreciation by the French of American sacrifices was fully recognized and appreciated,” Hamilton said.  “World War II is still a live thing for France, as it is for all European countries. To see the extent to which it’s still actively memorialized was really something.”

In addition to the Grady College students, the program also included film students from Syracuse University and University of Rhode Island, and students studying history from Davidson College.

Ralph, who also took a hands-on production class before the trip, and traveled to Australia within 24 hours of returning to cover the Women’s World Cup, said her biggest advice for students is to just apply.

“Apply to anything that seems interesting to you,” Ralph said. “I am really glad I seized all the opportunities I could and the trip to France was definitely key in defining expectations after graduation. Since I would like to work internationally once I graduate, this was just perfect.

Students and crew on a stairs.
Students and faculty from Grady College join others on the trip, including students from Syracuse University, University of Rhode Island, Davidson College and crew from the WWII Foundation working on the documentary. (Photo: courtesy of Xander Chiaramonte)

Grady College welcomes new full-time faculty

With the start of the academic year, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication is proud to welcome four new full-time faculty.

Nicholas Eng and Ruoyu Sun are new faculty members in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, while Benjamin Han and Lauren Musgrove are new to the Department of Entertainment and Media Studies.

Nicholas Eng joins AdPR as an assistant professor of public relations. Dr. Eng recently earned his doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University, and his research foci are the interplay between messages and audiences in responses about health, science and the environment. Prior to his graduate studies, Eng worked in advertising and public relations in both agencies and social enterprises. He has a master’s degree from North Carolina State University and a bachelor’s degree from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

He is motivated by having a meaningful impact on the world. “That is why a lot of my research has a prosocial aspect to it, as I seek to understand how we can shape people’s behaviors toward a healthier individual and planet,” Eng said.

Benjamin Min Han joins EMST as an associate professor. Dr. Han’s research focuses on television studies, race and media, and global media, especially the intersections between Korea and Latin America media and culture. He is the author of “Beyond the Black and White TV: Asian and Latin American Spectacle in Cold War America.” He taught communication courses at Tulane University, and received his doctorate degree in cinema studies from New York University. He has a master’s degree from University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Han is motivated by intellectual curiosity and meeting new people with diverse backgrounds. He is relocating to Georgia with his wife and eight-year-old son.

Lauren Musgrove joins EMST as an assistant professor. Professor Musgrove is an eight-time Southeast Emmy-winning filmmaker and the co-founder of Purple Magnet Productions, a women-owned production company committed to supporting a more inclusive and geographically expansive industry. She has a number of productions to her credit including serving as co-producer and director of “People of Alabama” documentary video series which received an INMA Global Media Award, and “A Day in the Life of America,” which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival and is available on PBS. She has an MFA in Film and Media Art from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama.

“We are thrilled to be back in the South,” said Musgrove, who is moving to the area with her husband, Will, and their Boykin Spaniel, Tallulah, who was born in Georgia.

Ruoyu Sun (MA ’17), returns to AdPR as an assistant professor of public relations. After earning her master’s degree at Grady College in public relations, Dr. Sun continued her studies at the University of Miami, recently graduating with a doctorate in communication. Her research specialization focuses on corporate communication, stakeholder engagement and relationship management. Sun earned a bachelor’s degree in international journalism from BNU-HKBU United International College in China.

She is excited to be back in Athens at UGA. “As an alumna of UGA and the College of Journalism and Mass Communication, I have a deep sense of connection to the university. What excites me most is the opportunity to rejoin this vibrant and innovative community as a faculty member and contribute to its growth.”

Grady College is pleased to welcome several new part-time instructors as well including:

  • Sam Jones, Journalism
  • Diana Keough, Journalism
  • Ashley Patterson, EMST
  • Kamille Whittaker, Journalism

Grady InternViews: Rahel Kefetew

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.  

Rahel Kefetew is a fourth-year Entertainment and Media Studies student working with the Creative Artists Agency as a commercial endorsements intern. Read on as she provides insight into what this internship looks like.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I work in the Commercial Endorsements department at CAA. The agents in CE work by pitching clients for brand deals and endorsements and making sure that these brands fit their already made image. One of my responsibilities this summer has been creating sub rosters of niche interests that allow agents to zero in on a characteristic or interest and see what clients match. This further allows them to find a more natural fit for brands.

What does the structure of your internship look like?

I work a 9-6 and every week, and I rotate to another desk in the department. Each agent has their niche fields within CE. One week I can be working with an agent that deals with high fashion and the next can be lifestyle brands. This has been a really great way for me to see the wide breadth of clients at CAA and get a front-row seat to negotiations and deal making.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far? Tell us a story if you have one!

My favorite part of my internship has definitely been the realization that this agency is not like any other. I definitely lucked out when it comes to company culture at CAA. From the moment I stepped into the building, I was welcomed with open arms. Everyone here wants to help you succeed and wants you to learn from them. CAA has been nothing but kind and supportive of me and my career aspirations, and this has enriched my experience here and made coming here every day all the more exciting.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

Taking Entertainment Industries instilled in me the background knowledge of the industry. This helped tremendously in being able to hold a conversation with the other interns and the agents. Being film/TV literate has also helped a lot in being able to connect with the people that are out here.

What’s your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?

Take the plunge and apply! Yes, a lot of the interns in LA consist of students that attend these west coast schools but don’t let that deter you from trying. Being from Georgia, home of the national champs, has sparked more conversations with people out here than you would think. Coming to work at a place across the country shows just how passionate you are for the field so use that to your advantage!

How will this role guide your future career path?
Photo of a person standing in front of the Creative Artists Agency

I’ve always known I wanted to work in representation but wanted to take the summer to understand in what capacity I can see myself in. This internship has exposed me to careers I didn’t know existed and has given me a clear picture into the world of agencies. I think because of it I am much more solidified in my aspirations and have something a lot more concrete to work towards.

What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?

Being organized and meticulous when given a task will get you very far. I’ve also realized that I this is the best time of my life to be curious and ask questions because everyone wants to help the intern/student.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

To keep watching good TV! The amount of people I’ve connected with because of my extensive mental catalog of TV goes to show how much value there is in being well-versed in the industry. As a more general piece of advice, whatever you’re passionate about or whatever field you want to pursue, immerse yourself in it, read about it, and learn about what it’s producing and how people are consuming parts of it, it’ll make you all the more knowledgeable and a better candidate for jobs.

What’s your career goal?

I want to work within Entertainment Law as either an agent or as a business affairs executive.

How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?

This role has solidified my “Why” – specifically why I want to pursue a career in representation and why I want to do that at an agency level. By exposing me to the smaller day-to-day activities of the career I hope to pursue I was given a more colorful glimpse into what my career could be if I work hard to get it. Now that I’ve gotten that glimpse, I’m all the more motivated to try to get the full picture in the next couple of years.

Grady InternViews: Taylor Shults

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.  

Taylor Shults is a third-year Entertainment and Media Studies student interning with the Producers Guild of America. Read on as she provides insight into what this internship looks like.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.

I am a summer intern at the Producers Guild of America. Most of my work is for the arbitration department. I create and edit documents that are used in the vetting process when awarding the p.g.a. mark for soon-to-be-released films. This helps to combat the major industry issues of vanity credits and how they dilute what the term producer really means. I also support the membership team by going through potential candidates, organizing information and finding supporting documentation for the application process. On top of this, I occasionally work with the other interns to do a variety of needed projects. They can range from creating a graphic for upcoming events or updating tabs on rising filmmakers who could be future guild members.

What does the structure of your internship look like?

My internship is part-time and virtual. I have a check-in meeting with my supervisor at the beginning of the week, just to make sure I am not feeling overwhelmed or am needing more work. The PGA is really good at making sure their interns are well supported both emotionally and professionally. I work Tuesdays and Thursdays 9-5. The other interns and I send check-in emails to all the heads of departments, and from there we wait for work to be sent to us.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

Finding a balance between my two internships, coursework, and the ability to explore Los Angeles has been extremely challenging. I think the new environment is so expansive that it can be overwhelming, but I am getting the hang of it.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far? Tell us a story if you have one!
Photo of student holding an oscar in front of the walt disney archives
Shults travels to the Walt Disney Archives during her time in LA. (Photo: Submitted)

I really love being able to see the impact my work is having on the credits of major motion pictures. Almost all major pictures go through our arbitration vetting. (It is basically mandatory if they want to be in the running for the Academy Awards.) It’s really cool to process the documents for the films and then scan the credits for the p.g.a. mark. I’ve seen more films in theaters on the Grady LA program than I usually see in half a year, and every time, I stay back to watch for the mark. It might not mean much to the average viewer, but to me it’s proof, I am starting to make my way in the industry.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

The EMST Intro Industries class provided a great baseline of knowledge to pull from. I am confident that I can hold a conversation with an industry professional on almost all the hot topics right now. Without that course, I would feel like I had no standing to even be talking to anyone about the entertainment field.

What’s your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?

Reach out to your peers and UGA grads! Going into the internship hunt, I spent a lot of time talking to UGA students who interned in LA. They knew exactly what challenges I would face and gave me tips on how to overcome them. Everyone at Grady really wants to help each other. We also have a large group of alumni who want to talk to students and share their knowledge. Take advantage of this!

How will this role guide your future career path?

As a PGA intern, I get to peek behind the curtain to see how the Producers Guild operates. I hope to be a PGA member later in my career, so I can see this background helping immensely in how I will take advantage of the membership benefits. In fact, I have access to some member-only resources to learn from and hone my own producer skills. Additionally, I am getting a deeper understanding of how the PGA fits into the scheme of the industry. We’re in a really interesting time in the entertainment field. Massive changes are happening, and I get a front-row seat to how producers are reacting.

Four students holding a Grady College flag pose in front of the Hollywood sign
Shults enjoys traveling around Los Angeles during her time with Grady in LA. (Photo: Submitted)
What’s your career goal?

Film/Television Producer

What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?

Ask questions. The only way to learn is to recognize what you don’t know and ask someone who does. You would be shocked at how many people want to help. The worst that can happen from asking is you have to ask someone else.

How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?

My role has definitely solidified the fact that I really enjoy the support that goes into the creative processes of the entertainment industry. I am a double major in business management, and my business side really loves a good spreadsheet. I now see there is a grand variety of ways my skills can be used to help beyond the making of films.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Breathe. You’re going to be put into situations that are not ideal, but that is a part of life. If you do not push beyond your comfort zone, you will never grow. It will suck for a bit, but keep your cool and breathe. You might even find something you did not notice before.

Grady InternViews: Tee Dickinson

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.  

Tee Dickinson is a fourth-year Entertainment and Media Studies student working with NewsNation Network as part of Grady’s inaugural Chicago Field Study and Internship Program. Read on as he provides insight into what this internship looks like.

Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.Graphic with a black background and microphone. Text reads: Major: Entertainment and Media Studies, Title: Production intern, Company: NewsNation Network, Location: Chicago, Illinois.

I’m working as a production intern at NewsNation Network in Chicago this summer. My responsibilities vary on a day-to-day basis, but I’m primarily responsible for writing scripts for the air, researching and pitching stories, identifying prospective guests, sourcing videos from social media, and editing segment clips.

What does the structure of your internship look like?

Interestingly enough, my internship has no structure. When I was hired, I was told by producers that this internship would be an opportunity for me to learn whatever I’d like and to try new things out, as long as I’m making an effort to reach out to employees about new work opportunities. I honestly love that my job gives me so much creative freedom. It’s helped me to expand my network and makes my workdays a lot more exciting knowing each day will be different.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?

I’d say the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far is dealing with breaking news, working on the fly, and adapting to a fast-paced news environment. It takes time, but it’s definitely something you need to get accustomed to if you want to work in this industry.

What has been your favorite part about your internship so far? Tell us a story if you have one!

The people! I work with some of the nicest, most hardworking people at NewsNation. I feel like the people you work with really make or break the work experience in any industry, but everyone here has been so supportive, and they make each day in the office so much fun.

How have the classes you’ve taken at Grady prepared you for this internship?

My classes in Grady have prepared me for this internship by teaching me the importance of telling stories that will make the biggest impact; the stories that really resonate with audiences, that teach people about the things that matter, and further spark our imagination for the stories we tell in the future. I’ve been fortunate to learn from some of the most amazing professors in Grady and I’m so grateful for all their wisdom, guidance and encouragement over the past 3 years.

Student sitting at a NewsNation Live desk
Dickinson sits at a NewsNation desk during his summer internship in Chicago. (Photo: Submitted)
What’s your advice to other students looking for a similar opportunity?

Try everything. Never say no to an opportunity. Doing this will set you up with lots of different skills and will make you adaptable and versatile. Employers in the media industry want to find a well-rounded individual that they can mold into the type of employee who will succeed within their organization.

How will this role guide your future career path?

I feel like my role at NewsNation will provide me with a solid foundation to explore more avenues in the media industry. I’m focused on developing my skills in multimedia production while also staying open to new opportunities that will guide me towards a fulfilling and impactful career.

What’s your career goal?

Honestly, I don’t have a specific career goal set in stone at the moment. I’m passionate about a lot of different media formats, so my goal is to continue expanding my proficiency in creating compelling multimedia stories and leverage the resources and experiences that are available to me.

What lessons will you take back with you to the classroom in the fall?

For one thing, I feel like my internship has taught me valuable lessons that sharpened my skills in research, writing, and multimedia storytelling. But more importantly, I feel like my internship has helped me to better understand the importance of accuracy, fairness, and objectivity in reporting. NewsNation is the fastest-growing cable news network in America committed to comprehensive, unbiased, fact-based reporting, which is something you don’t see much of in news anymore. I not only want to carry lessons like these back to school with me in the fall, but also want to use them to my advantage as I continue to tell stories in the future.

How has this role helped you discover what you are passionate about?

I feel like if there’s one thing I discovered I’m passionate about while in this role, it’s people. I care a lot about people. I love learning about people and their communities, hearing their stories, building relationships and networks, etc. Engaging with people from different backgrounds both in my work and in my personal life has really helped me to expand my horizons, and I want my work in the media industry to have a positive impact on those who consume it.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Be kinder to yourself and understand that failure is a stepping stone towards progress rather than a reflection of your worth or abilities. It’s important to approach failure with a growth mindset in order to discover new paths of success.

What’s your favorite part about living in Chicago?

I love that there’s always something happening in Chicago, especially during the summer. Whether it be an art gallery, a street festival, or a Cubs game, there’s always something going on in Chicago that really brings the community together, and I love that I get to be part of it for the next five weeks.

Students to work on WWII documentary production crew in France

Grady College students will work side by side with documentarians in the field under an exciting new experiential learning partnership with the World War II Foundation.

Five Grady College students and Sanghoon Lee of the MFA Film, Television and Digital Media faculty will travel to France this summer to serve as production assistants for a World War II documentary that will be filmed for PBS.

The opportunity was introduced to Grady College by Bryan Harris (MA ’03), a part-time faculty member in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations, and his friend, Glen Jackson, co-founder of Jackson Spalding Public Relations, who serves on the Board of Directors for the World War II Foundation.

“This is a stellar opportunity for our students to not only gain first-hand experience with an unbelievably high production value, but also to travel and learn history at the same time,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “We are grateful for the opportunity and our hope is to continue this for years to come as a study away experience.”

Jackson serves on the board of the WWII Foundation in honor of his father and Grady College alumnus, Ed Jackson, whose 70th Tank Battalion landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. Edward Jackson (ABJ ’47) was a journalism major at UGA. Glen and his brother, Clay, have provided part of the funding for this opportunity for the students and Lee.

The students will travel to several cities in France including Paris, Limoges and Lyon, as well as Geneva, Switzerland, in early July to work on a documentary about the French Resistance. While there, they will serve as production assistants for the film crew. They will have some time to work on their own projects while there.

For one of the students, Emani Saucier, who is in his first year in the MFA Film program, this trip holds special significance since he is a junior officer in the US Army.

“It’s a thrill to adapt my civilian skills to my role in our armed forces,” Saucier said. “Battle lessons from WWII have been used throughout my training and the opportunity to visit some of the war’s campaign locations is more than I can ask for. I’m looking forward to sobering moments as I try to imagine the conflicts that warriors my age and rank faced all those years ago.”

A similar program is offered to students of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at  Syracuse University. The documentary film their students helped produce last summer, “The Tuskegee Airmen: Return to Ramitelli,” recently aired on PBS.

This documentary and the one that will be produced this summer are part of a series of educational films produced by the WWII Foundation, several of which are aired on PBS.

Grady faculty and graduate students present at ICA conference; Walker and Kim to receive Outstanding Dissertation Awards

Several Grady College faculty and graduate students will present their research at the annual International Communication Association Conference May 25-29, 2023.

The conference takes place in Toronto.

Among the highlights are the presentations of two Outstanding Dissertation Awards: one to Denetra Walker, assistant professor of journalism, and one to Solyee Kim, lecturer in public relations.

Walker’s award comes from ICA’s Ethnicity and Race in Communication Division. Her dissertation, written at the University of South Carolina, was titled “Gatekeeping Blackness: The Roles, Relationships, And Pressures of Black Television Journalists at a Time of Racial Reckoning.”

Kim’s award is the James E. Grunig and Larissa A. Grunig Outstanding Dissertation Award for her paper, “DEI Sensemaking and Social Identity Signaling in Public Relations: Recruitment of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Practitioners Through DEI Cues.” Kim earned this award through the Public Relations Division

Other faculty and graduate students participating in the ICA conference include (listed in chronological order of presentation):

Thursday, May 25

1:30 p.m., Charlotte Varnum makes a pre-conference presentation, “Eyes and ears: Examining how mobile users navigate and make listening decisions on podcast platforms”

Friday, May 26

9 -10:15 a.m., Yan Jin is the chair and discussant for a panel, “”Leading Strategic Communication Through Turbulent Times: How the Contingency Theory Advances Practice in the Management of Crises, Conflicts and Complex Public Relations Issues.” (2-Kenora, Sheraton)

Noon – 1:15 p.m., Juan Meng chairs the panel “Innovation in Strategic Communication Research and Education.” (2-Kenora, Sheraton)

1:30 – 2:45 p.m., Juan Meng and Michael Cacciatore co-present the paper, “The Integrated Role of Adaptive Leadership, Sense of Empathy, and Communication Transparency: A Novel Approach to Trust Building in Public Relations.” (2-Kent, Sheraton)

4:30-5:45 p.m., Yan Jin co-presents “Public’s Health Information Consumption During a ProlongedPandemic: The Competing Roles of Journalists and Digital Influencers and Their Effects in Combating Message Fatigue.” (LC—Grand Ballroom, Sheraton)

Juan Meng also serves on the International Journal of Strategic Communication Editorial Board which meets Friday evening.

Saturday, May 27

9 – 10:15 a.m., Yan Jin chairs a session, “Addressing Misinformation and Benefits of Information,” and also presents with Xuerong Lu, a graduate student, “”There is a time for everything in organizational corrective communication: The effects of correction placement timing and refutation detail level on combating crisis misinformation.” (2-Elgin, Sheraton)

3 – 4:15 p.m., Michael Cacciatore co-presents the research, “Legitimate and appropriate science communication: The effects of anthropomorphic and satirical humor on source credibility.” (Dominion, Sheraton)

Sunday, May 28

9 – 10:15 a.m., Michael Cacciatore presents the research, “Cultivating interest in science through humor: Mirth as a leveler of gaps in science engagement.” (Cedar, Sheraton)

10:30 – 11:45 a.m., Juan Meng chairs the session, “Ethics, Listening, Purpose, and Dissensus: Various Applications of Public Relations” (M-Norfolk, Sheraton)

1:30 – 2:45 p.m., Hye Jin Yoon and Youngji Seo, a graduate student, discuss their paper, “The Individual/Combined Effects and Order Effects of Fear and Humor in Sun Safety Messages on Social Media” (2-Mackenzie, Sheraton)

4:30 – 5:45 p.m., Laurena Bernabo presents research on “Race, Representation and Identity.” (Room 2Kent)

Monday, May 29

9 – 10:15 a.m., Hye Jin Yoon and Youngjee Ko, a graduate student, present the research, “The Role of Corporate Social Responsibility Orientation in Green Demarketing Publicity and Advertising.” (2-Provnicial North, Sheraton)

Noon – 1:15 p.m., Karin Assmann serves as a panelist for the session, “Of the People, by the People, for the People: Re-Inventing Public Media to Support Democracy and Social Change.” She will also discuss her paper, “Crisis of Confidence: German Public Media Under Pressure.”