NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – How does a Magna Cum Laude Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine graduate from one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) become an award-winning filmmaker?
That’s a good question for 27-year-old Myah Naomi Lipscomb, a 2013 alumna of Tennessee State University and creator of the comedy series #WeirdMYAH. Lipscomb, along with a host of TSU alums, are garnering national acclaim with their original comedy series, which is currently being featured in the Tennessee Episodic Showcase division of the Nashville Film Festival.
“I feel so blessed, and I am so happy,” said Lipscomb. “I would not have thought when I was working at the animal hospital and not loving it that in just a couple of years I could say that I am doing what I love.”
#WeirdMYAH, which recently took home the Best TV Pilot Award at the National Black Film Festival in Houston, for its full length episode #photobomb, screens Wednesday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at Regal Hollywood Stadium 27.
In the television comedy, Myah Bridges, portrayed by Lipscomb, is a student at historically black Lloyd University. She struggles to overcome the conflicts in her problematic life, created by the stress of college, lack of income, and her social awkwardness. Overtime, Myah learns to deal with her uniqueness by embracing her individuality, but her quest for normalcy has its obstacles.
Lipscomb and the pilot’s director and cowriter, Kelly Keri Greer, both graduates of TSU, earned MFA’s in Film and Creative Media from Lipscomb University in 2017. The two are just part of a long list of TSU alums involved with the project.
“I think when I first tried to pursue it years ago, it just wasn’t the right season for it,” Lipscomb said. “And I think me going to graduate school and really learning the craft and learning the field, I needed that. Me networking with other filmmakers and actors, I needed that. And all of us together is what has really branded this project into what it is now.”
Greer, a Memphis-native who graduated from TSU with a B.A. in Mass Communications, said the cast and crew of #WeirdMYAH are like a family.
“We are always together, and not only do we work together, we work well together,” she said. “We’re there for long periods of time together on set, but we can actually go and spend our own personal time with one another, so we are really a family, and I think that’s probably the most rewarding part of being a part of this project.”
Greer, like Lipscomb, said attending TSU played a major role in her success.
“We only had one film professor at TSU, Melissa Forte, and she really taught us everything from beginning to end,” Greer said. “We had editing classes with her. We had screenwriting classes with her, and she really taught us the basics of film including production and being your own producer, like being an independent filmmaker. With those tools you really can’t go wrong.”
Lipscomb’s rendezvous with TSU goes back much further. Her grandfather, Dr. Roland Norman, worked at TSU for nearly 40 years, ultimately serving as dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. Her grandmother, Naomi Norman, worked as a nurse in the Queen Washington Student Health Center at TSU throughout her professional career.
Their children, including Myah’s mother, Chandra Norman Lipscomb, grew up on the TSU campus. Myah’s mother eventually attended TSU and became Miss TSU 1979-1980. She worked at the university in various capacities, including teaching in the Department of Communications, serving as a campus administrator, working in the College of Business, and eventually serving as the coordinator of International Student Services and Cultural Programming in the Office of International Affairs before her recent retirement.
As a student at TSU, Myah served as Miss Freshman 2009-2010. She also served on the student government association as representative-at-large and speaker of the house.
An accomplished actress, Norman Lipscomb said she sees a lot of herself in Myah.
“I look at Myah, and a lot of the things she is doing, she got from me. Myah grew up watching me doing my performances and what not, but we never knew she had a desire for the arts or for communications because she would always talk about being a veterinarian,” she said. “To be honest, she was afraid to let her dad and I know that that was the area she wanted because she thought we wanted her to be a veterinarian.”
As a mother, Norman Lipscomb said she sees the hard work her daughter puts into her craft and believes it is the key to her success.
“I personally see what no one else sees. I see Myah getting up to go to the gym at 5 a.m., coming back and working whether it is #WeirdMYAH, editing a project, getting ready to go film a music video, whatever,” she said. “She is working most of the time, and this is like a labor of love for her.“
Myah encourages other young people to pursue their passion.
“Whether it’s in film, whatever field you are passionate about, I think you need to follow your passion, and follow your heart, and you’ll get there,” Lipscomb said. “You just need to take that first step and not be afraid.”
Lipscomb said the next step for #WeirdMYAH is to pitch the show to networks and streaming platforms. She hopes to use her journey as a filmmaker to revitalize positive, entertaining content that highlights African Americans.
Other TSU alums involved in the project include the cinematographer, Joseph Patrick; cast and crew members Lanial Madden, Kala Ross, Chelsea Smith Brand Lee W., Asia Jones, Joe Major, Clarke Howard, Evony Thompson and Lauren Waller; and filmmaker Spencer Glover, who also graduated with an MFA from Lipscomb and has worked as a director on the miniseries.
The five episode web-based miniseries of #WeirdMYAH is available online at www.myahnaomi.com/weirdmyah. To purchase tickets for the May 16 screening of the full length episode, #photobomb, visit www.nashvillefilmfestival.org.
Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
About Tennessee State University
With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.