SAG-AFTRA and HBCU In LA Presents Student-Produced Short Film Uchawi with Screening Event Featuring Guest Speaker Congresswoman Maxine Waters

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Private screening and reception draws VIP attendees including Emmy award-winning producer James Bland and executives from top Hollywood studios.

Photo by Maury Phillips

Hon. Maxine Waters with Cast and Mentors of Uchawi Film

To mark the successful completion of the 2019 HBCU in LA Internship program, SAG-AFTRA hosted a special event for thirty student participants who proudly showcased their summer culmination project: an independently written and produced short film, Uchawi (pron. Oo-cha-wee). Entertainment Industry College Outreach Program (EICOP)/HBCU in LA founder Stacy Milner and James Bland, Emmy-winning producer, director, and creator of the acclaimed hit YouTube series Giants, celebrated along with supporters and mentors at a private screening, reception, and panel discussion that featured guest speaker, Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

The 10-minute short-film project centers around two sisters who encounter an extraordinary power that forces them to confront their troubled pasts and learn the importance of forgiveness. It was created, written, produced, edited, and then showcased entirely by student interns, with the support of volunteer industry professionals from James Bland Films, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Endeavor Content, Revolt TV, Jesse Collins Entertainment and TV One, among others. Uchawi was written by Troi Henderson, a recent TV & Film graduate of Howard University, whose pitch was chosen from 5 finalists.

The premiere of the short film was presented to a packed house at the SAG-AFTRA headquarters in Los Angeles. Guest speaker Congresswoman Waters was introduced by SAG-AFTRA Chief People Officer, Tashia Mallette. Rep. Waters discussed the important function of HBCUs, offered words of wisdom, and encouraged students to pursue their dreams. She left the aspiring entertainment professionals with a word of advice which was met with roaring applause and a standing ovation, “Listen to your Auntie and reclaim your time!”

VIP guests included notable talent and program mentors such as J. August Richards (Angel, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Giants); Don Morgan (9x Emmy-winning Cinematographer); Kelsey Scott (How to Get Away With Murder, 12 Years a Slave); Casting Director/Producer/Author Tracie “Twinkie” Byrd; Judge Kevin Ross (America’s Court); Emmy-nominated music producer/director Rickey Minor, and production consultant Sonya Marchand. Also in attendance were top executives from Warner Bros., Disney/ABC, CAA, UTA, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Amazon Studios, and partners of HBCU In LA/ EICOP. Red carpet interviews were conducted by student correspondents Kaprielle Trenard (Rising senior, Howard U) and Morgan Poole (Recent grad, Delaware State U).

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