Allison Waite's Div III Film to Examine Wrongful Deaths of Black Youth

Allison Waite 11F, a James Baldwin scholar and student of film, video and Africana studies, has been awarded the Princess Grace Foundation-USA’s 2014 Undergraduate Film Award, a highly-competitive scholarship awarded to an undergraduate student working in film.

Waite plans to use the Princess Grace Foundation scholarship money to shoot her Hampshire College Division III film in Los Angeles this fall. The film will concentrate on a fictional portrayal of the murder of a young African American woman and its aftermath in her surrounding community. The story of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African American girl shot and killed by a storeowner in 1991, is among the inspirations for Waite’s film.

“I aim to humanize the experiences of families that are involved as a result of these shootings, while also advocating for more importance to be placed on the lives of the black youth who are lost. These deaths are more than ‘accidents,’ ” Waite says. “The wrongful death of black youth happens all the time… I hope to make a film that brings greater awareness and understanding of our grief, and our protest against these events.”

Waite’s letter of nomination for the Film Award was written by film and video professor Baba Hillman. Professor Hillman wrote: “Allison is a gifted filmmaker, performer, and storyteller. Her most recent work includes On Sidewalks and Chestnut Skin, a film that centers on experiences of young African American women who are struggling with issues of belonging and racial stereotyping, and Baraka, the story of a Kenyan child who has lost his father and must live on his own. Her skill as a director and cameraperson stands out in the exuberance of the imagery and the range and presence of the performances. Allison’s Division III film will examine, through the experiences of three generations of women, histories of trauma, systemic oppression, healing and resilience within African American communities in South Central Los Angeles.”

The Princess Grace Awards continue the legacy of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, who helped emerging artists pursue their goals during her lifetime. Winners will receive their awards at the Princess Grace Awards Gala, held in the presence of the prince and princess of Monaco, on October 8 in Los Angeles.

Three Honored by Princess Grace Foundation-USA