Fourth year Entertainment and Media Studies major Jillian Smalls is headed to the Cox LEAD Program post-graduation with an open and curious mindset.
#ProfilesOfTenacity: Jillian Smalls
Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?
I decided to come to UGA specifically to attend Grady College. Among all the colleges I was interested in, none of them offered a major that was as comprehensive of my interests as the entertainment & media studies major. I grew up writing stories and watching classic movies, so I’ve had a passion for storytelling for as long as I can remember. I loved that the EMST major encompassed so many different aspects of the entertainment industry beyond film production, so I knew Grady would be the place where I could grow and continue to hone my passion for storytelling.
What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?
Tenacity means believing in yourself every step of the way towards achieving a goal. I believe that by having self-confidence, you can transcend the impossible. You can achieve anything you want in life if you believe you can achieve it.
What is your most memorable Grady experience?
My most memorable Grady experience would have to be when I took my first production class in the fall of 2020. I will never forget making a short film documentary from start to finish during a pandemic. The process was challenging and stressful, but I think it was a valuable experience that taught us the importance of work ethic and perseverance to complete a project under unfavorable circumstances. Our documentary was about an art school student and how the pandemic and online school affected their creative process. It was inspiring seeing the positive impact storytelling can have on a situation like the pandemic. I was also grateful for the time I got to have with my teammates as we bonded over our experiences as college students in a pandemic.
What are you passionate about?
I have a passion for serving others. I am a former site leader for IMPACT and that was probably the most fulfilling experience of my life. However, I believe that service can manifest itself in many ways beyond volunteering. I think storytelling is a form of service in some ways because stories that amplify marginalized voices, for example, are a form of service to audiences.
What is an example of a time you used your studies and skills in a real-world experience?
Last summer, I was a digital marketing intern for Verint, a customer engagement software company. Even though this was a marketing position, I felt like my storytelling background through EMST is why I stood out from other candidates for the position. During the internship, I was tasked with many projects, but for one of them, I had to write and produce a series of promotional videos for one of their products. I worked in collaboration with animators to write a script and storyboard videos that showcased the features of the software. It was an awesome experience seeing my courses of study work together in the real world.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?
My favorite piece of advice is “stay curious.” It’s a short and vague piece of advice, but that is why I like it. I think it can be applied to pretty much any situation. For me, it means avoiding becoming complacent. I think that in school, work or even relationships we can get too comfortable in a routine. By staying curious and being inquisitive, you will learn new things and open your mind to different points of view.
What are you planning to do after graduation?
I will be working full-time at Cox Enterprises in the LEAD Program after graduation. I am excited to bring the skills I acquired from experiences in Grady to LEAD.
What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?
TikTok has been my favorite app lately. I enjoy both music and video, so the way the app fuses the two together is fun and interesting to me. I love that TikTok is showing people the endless possibilities of what they can create with just their smartphone. It’s been inspiring seeing that you don’t need an expensive camera to create successful video projects.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am a huge foodie. I love cooking or baking new recipes in my free time. I also love trying new restaurants and cuisines. Tlaloc and The World Famous are my favorite places to eat and hang out in Athens.
Where is your favorite place on campus and why?
My favorite place on campus is the area outside of the Peabody Archive on the third floor of the Grady building. I love the view of Sanford Stadium and Hooper Street from there. It is the perfect spot to take phone calls and wander around when the weather is nice. I think of it as one of Grady’s hidden gems.
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