By Alejandra Stack, KidNewsMaker founder/publisher/host
Atlanta, Georgia… ‘The Hate U Give’ actress Heaven Hightower ‘s body of work earned her the award for Best Actress at the American Youth Film Festival. The three-day event took place June 12-15, 2019 and had attendees from Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, New York ,Chicago and California. Big sponsors included the Westin and the Fulton County Film Commission. SCROLL TO THE END TO WATCH THE VIDEO AND BE SURE TO PURCHASE A SUMMER 2019 PRINT ISSUE.
I had an all-access pass and was able to attend some of the amazing workshops on improv, filmmaking 101, and getting funding for your project. And did I mention we took a three-hour tour of film sites and studios in Atlanta, some of which I worked on (sigh, y’all still calling me Skipping Girl from ‘The Walking Dead” lol).
I also sat in to listen to the panel of industry professionals as they talked about the Future of Film in Georgia. In addition to hosting the panel, fashion designer, author, actress, and speaker Essynce Moore (hey big sis and slay queen!) also hosted the awards show.
In addition to serving as an official media correspondent for this event, I got to talk to some of the most amazing youth creatives on the red carpet and attend screenings to some short films starring, directed and written by youth.
On Wednesday, Microstoft Lennox Mall hosted a meet and greet which was a great way for us to see some tech gear. Then on Thursday we headed to the Westin to do classes in media literacy and video production, screen some films and attend a drone workshop before the “Careers in Film” panel. On Friday, we attended more workshops and saw ore screenings, and got to meet Taylor Richardson of Astronaut Starbright to talk about the documentary on her epic life (other big sis xoxo). STEAM advocate Taylor was the amazing teen who got over 10,000 people out to see ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ and was so amazing that Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duverney invited her to a premiere.
So lets get right down to the 2019 American Youth Film Festival list of winners:
1. Best Animation – Days of Our Rover by Gerry Orz
2. Best Foreign Film – the book – the best gift by Alexey Protsenko
3. Best Comedy – Jesse Ray Sheps Sketch Comedy by Jesse Ray Sheps
4. Best Documentary – We Are Now by The Gandhi Brigade Youth
5. Best Sci-Fi – A Not So Scary Story by Nick Sherman
6. Best Suspense – RUN by Michelle Burger
7. Most Inspirational – Astronaut Star Bright by Lana Turner featuring Taylor Ricardson
8. Best Georgia Film – File X-35 by Ian Ely & Ben Hofert
9. Best in Show Elementary School – The Magician Audition by Samuel & Hannah Goergen
10. Best in Show Middle School – Made In His Image by Anah Ambuchi
11. Best in Show High School – Driver’s Ed by Dana Koops
12. Best in Show College – Shifted by Nathan Ragland
The Best Young Actress was Sophia Rayne, Best Young Actor was Eli Goss, Best Supporting Actress was Riley Cooper, Best Supporting Actor was William Simmons, Best Actress was Heaven Hightower and Best Actor was Hunter Fischer.
Now for the KidNewsMaker picks. My favorite red carpet look of the night was Sophia Rayne. She came to shut down the red carpet in her custom blue and white gown. Twirl on them Sophia! My favorite male look was William Simmons with his well-fitted suit and gorgeous signature hair.
My favorite speech of the night was Anaha Ambuchi who came through with all the #blackgirlmagic in the universe to take a stand against bullying, and colorism. Anah thanked her mom and the legendary dancer, actress, coach and my madre boriqua Jossie Harris Thacker (who plays my mom on ‘Mixed Emotions’) for coaching and inspiring her to tell her story. She talked about being a dark-skinned black girl, coming to terms with her Kenyan name and heritage and simply learning to love herself. Bruh y’all watch the video just to see my interview with her. My favorite session was the improv workshop with Miss Alima Albari who also showed me how to finally take a killer headshot. Love you ma’am and thank you so much for all your help!
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So if you are in film, or a creative, you HAVE to get in on this one. I’m already planning to be there next year.