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Utopian Academy For The Arts| Georgia Approved Charter Middle School » Utopian Academy Scholars, Teachers Receive Tips From Hollywood Star-Maker

Utopian Academy Scholars, Teachers

Receive Tips From Hollywood Star-Maker

 
RIVERDALE – Celebrity producer Reuben Cannon visited Utopian Academy for the Arts recently to give scholars working on student films and scripts some expert advice from a Hollywood insider. Language arts and broadcast journalism classes were buzzing with excitement in anticipation of Cannon’s visit. After all, Cannon, is a star-maker who produced several Tyler Perry films including “Why Did I Get Married” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.” He is one of the few faces in Hollywood able to unnerve Oprah Winfrey with his power to transform careers. Winfrey has admitted to waiting with baited breath for Cannon to return her call after she auditioned for “The Color Purple” in the early 1980s. Cannon didn’t offer her the part until he had completed his screen tests with A-list actresses.

Utopian Academy Scholars, Teachers Receive Tips From Hollywood Star-Maker 

“We are honored to have a Hollywood legend like Reuben Cannon visit our school,” said Artesius Miller, executive director of Utopian Academy for the Arts. “His success will help our scholars to see what is possible for those who work hard, get a good education, and have the determination to follow their dreams.”Cannon toured classrooms and took time to see student film projects. Broadcast journalism students showed Cannon a video that demonstrated their understanding of camera moves including the use of medium, action, and wide shots. Cannon praised the students for their professionalism. “I am so impressed with their ability to use technology and to tell stories,” Reuben said. “I’m looking at the work that they do and the terms that they used to describe stories; they were talking about transitions. They are using the language of pros. I go to a lot of film schools and this is on a level that is quite advanced for their age.” Lauren Lawson, the broadcast journalism teacher, beamed with pride as Reuben complimented her class. “You are giving me goose bumps,” she said. Cannon said working in the film industry was not even on his radar as a middle school student. Schools like Utopian help scholars to see that having a strong foundation in academics and the arts can lead to rewarding careers later in life. “I think the visual arts complements every aspect of education,” Cannon said. “Teaching filmmaking in particular covers many of the core subjects. Writing is part of teaching English. Directing has to do with communications. Camera work has to do with math and science. By doing this, Utopian is doing a great job in preparing these kids for success in life because they get to express themselves.” When Cannon arrived at the language arts hallway, a group of eighth grade girls in Ebonne Craft’s Theater and English class scrambled to get into place. They surprised Cannon with a performance from an original script called “Respect” that they had been writing. The story is a comedy about the growing pains of a group of high school friends.“And scene,” the girls yelled in unison as they completed their show and waited for applause. Cannon and Miller clapped in approval of a job well done. “Thank you, Ms. Craft for the nice surprise,” Miller said. Cannon told Craft that he would send her some scripts from movies that he receives to share with the class. He said the scripts would be helpful as the class works on writing techniques, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Some scholars were star struck by Cannon’s presence. They waved and smiled broadly, hoping to be “discovered” by a Hollywood scout who can help them land careers in entertainment someday. Eighth grader Attalla Camara was thankful that she got to see Cannon. “It’s exciting that he choose to come to a small school that just opened a year ago,” she said. “We have a whole lot of talent here.” Jordan Allen, a visual art student, agreed. “This is awesome. I’m glad that he got a chance to see how much the teachers and the principal care about us.” Cannon, who lives in Atlanta, said that Utopian Academy’s academic and arts programs are very “impressive.” He will be working with Miller to see how he can support the school during future visits. Teacher Agnes Jackson said meeting Cannon has had a positive impact on her students. “It’s inspiring for children to see what they can aspire to be one day.”

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