Thursday evening, many students at Florida A&M University lined up, anticipating the wisdom that was locked behind the theatre doors of Lee Hall.

The Knight Chair Speaker Series featuring Mitzi Miller, Sameer Gardezi, James Bland, Lori Hall and a video message from Karyn Parsons, gave students the “Real Deal” about allowing their voices to be heard through their passion and how to get pass, according to Bland, “the gatekeepers” of the film industry.

Knight Chair Speaker Series host and Knight Chair for FAMU, Francine Huff left no stone unturned.

“What would you tell your younger self?” Huff asked. Leaving a silence in the room as the panelist pondered on a truthful response.

The responses began to roll of the tongues of the panelist, “Listen and be open to others ideas,” Miller said.

“Be truthful, be yourself,” continued Gardezi.

“Do the work. Then speak louder than your work… Eliminate trying… don’t expect overnight success,” Bland added.

“Don’t expect overnight success… You don’t have to have it all figured out today,” Hall concluded. 

Though she couldn’t make it because of a delayed flight, Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire star and founder of Sweet Black Berry, Karyn Parsons did have a message that she wanted to be heard.

“Obstacles are actually opportunities for greatness,” Parsons explained in the video.

Parsons described to the audience the importance of Sweet Black Berry and what it does for young African American children.

“Now is the perfect time to address the lack of diversity in the media,” Parsons continued. Sweet Black Berry was created to tell the accomplishments of people of African descent throughout history through digital storytelling and animations.

Discussing topics such as giving advice to their younger self, addressing issues in Hollywood with appropriate African American representation, and how to maintain a career in Hollywood as an African American.

According to third-year Public Relations student Nyasha Bailey, the Knight Speaker Series panelist gave her tools she will always have and ready for use in her career toolbox.

“Tonight, was definitely eye-opening. There was so much helpful information about getting and maintain a career in the film industry while being a person of color,” Bailey expressed.

“They have made me excited and nervous about the world after college,” Bailey continued, “and the hiccups I may face simply because I am black.”

Akilah Smith, third year Broadcast Journalism student, it was what she needed as a reminder of her passion for broadcast journalism.

“I thought it was inspiring. And made me want to step my game up and help me direct where I want my career path to go. I loved everyone on the panel,” Smith explained.

The Knight Chair Speaker Series’ host and panelists dropped jewels in the lap of all the students that attend.

“I am really looking forward to next years’ panel. Tonight, was so well thought out, I know next year is definitely going to be bigger and better,” Baily anxiously said. she can’t wait until next year’s Knight Chair Speaker Series

For many, similar to Nyasha Bailey and Akilah Smith, next year’s Knight Chair Speaker Series will be a desperately awaited event.

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